Australian shares have closed modestly higher after a day of choppy trading marked by mixed local economic data.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 18.3 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 6,079.1 points at 1615 AEDT on Tuesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 20.1 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 6,148.7.
Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that household lending was down 6.9 per cent in December, while National Australia Bank said that business confidence had rebounded in January after falling sharply in December.
“It’s been relatively muted,” with a “cautiously optimistic finish,” said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer of Rakuten Securities.
The market, he said, is waiting to see if the US and China can resolve their differences on trade before a March 1 deadline when the US is set to raise tariffs on China further.
The energy sector raced ahead from late morning as oil futures bounced, with Santos, Origin Energy and Beach Energy up between 1.17 per cent and 2.22 per cent.
While the big four banks were lower for a third straight day, Macquarie Group shares were 2.15 per cent higher after it said it expected profits to soar 15 per cent.
CSL shares increased 1.25 per cent, to $193.69, ahead of the biotech company’s earning announcements on Wednesday.
Specialty packaging company Pact Group’s shares skidded 9.67 per cent after it said it would recognise non-cash impairment charges in the range of $310 million to $410 million amid challenging business conditions.
BHP shares gained 0.67 per cent, to $36.28, while Telstra shares gained 0.31 per cent, to $3.23.
The Aussie dollar was buying 70.78 US cents, from 70.61 US cents on Monday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 18.3 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 6,079.1 points at 1615 AEDT on Monday.
* The All Ordinaries was down 20.1 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 6,148.7.
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 1 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 6017.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 70.81 US cents, from 70.97 US on Monday
* 78.27 Japanese yen, from 78.04
* 62.77 euro cents, from 62.66
* 55.04 British pence, from 54.89
* 105.21 NZ cents, from 104.93
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1310.26 per fine ounce, from $US1311.31 on Friday.