Australian shares have finished higher for a third straight day, while the Australian dollar has hit the skids after the Reserve Bank opened the door to a possible rate cut.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 20.2 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 6,026.1 points at 1615 AEDT on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 23.7 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6,091.8.
The Australian dollar dropped more than 1.1 per cent, meanwhile, after Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe said it was possible Australia’s cash rate might be cut further.
Lowe indicated a rate cut was just as likely as a rate hike, with a cut warranted if the economy softens, a shift from its longstanding bias towards tightening.
The Aussie hit a one-week low on the news, buying 71.54 US cents, down from 72.35 cents on Tuesday.
When it come to equities, the ASX200 held steady above 6,000 despite weakness in the financial sector as investors took profits following Tuesday’s strong gains.
The big banks were down between 1.24 and 1.68 per cent, with ANZ the worst hit. The stock is still up 5.9 per cent on the week, however.
It was a better day for most other sectors, with the technology sector and industrials up over 2 per cent.
Transportation stocks also did well, with Sydney Airport up 4.26 per cent, Qantas up 4.07 per cent and Virgin Australia up 2.7 per cent.
IAG shares jumped 4.25 per cent, to $7.61, even after the insurance company said it was cutting dividends following a freak hail storm.
Petrol company Viva Energy stock enjoyed its best-ever daily performance, closing 13.77 per cent higher, at $2.19, after it announced a new 10-year partnership with Coles involving the running of Coles Express stores.
Nick Scali recorded its best day in two years after it announced its interim dividend would be lifted to a fully-franked 25 cents per share, from 14 cents a year ago. The furniture retailer’s shares closed at $5.55, up 39 cents or 7.56 per cent.
Genworth Mortgage Insurance shares jumped 3.98 per cent even as the company announced a subdued housing market had pushed net profit down.
BHP gained 1.67 per cent and Rio Tinto was up 1.93 per cent.
‘It’s all looking hunky dory at the moment,’ said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at Pepperstone in Melbourne.
The gains of the past month and a half had come from less restrictive monetary policies in Asia, but it’s unclear whether there’s the strength to continue, Mr Weston said.
‘People are seeing economic vulnerabilities in Australia, there’s no doubt,’ he said. ‘We are quite concerned where the Australian economy sits in 12 months time, or 24 months time.’
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index up 20.2 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 6,026.1 points at 1615 AEDT on Tuesday.
* The All Ordinaries was up 23.7 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6,091.8.
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 11 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 5,981.0.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 71.55 US cents, from 72.35 US on Monday
* 78.53 Japanese yen, from 79.56
* 62.75 euro cents, from 63.44
* 55.22 British pence, from 55.86
* 104.17 NZ cents, from 104.96
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1313.67 per fine ounce, from $US1315.06 on Monday.