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Local shares have fluctuated in early trade leading up to the release of the all-important Q4 GDP data on the economic performance over the final quarter of 2018. The ASX 200 index is climbing 32 points or 0.5% to 6231 despite a soft lead from Wall St overnight.
The GDP figures came in under consensus estimates with growth of 0.2% over the quarter, expectations were for growth of 0.3%. While the economy increased by 2.3% on an annual rate, compared to estimates of 2.6% growth. The Aussie dollar fell from 70.88 US cents and is currently buying 70.6 US cents while equities hit the best levels of the session on the back of the release.
The Aussie dollar was trending higher following a speech by RBA governor Phillip Lowe on the Australian economy and housing markets. He reiterated that the main driver of household consumption was jobs and wages growth more so than the falling housing market and that the RBA maintained its neutral bias for interest rates.
Only the communications sector is in reverse as both TPG Telecom (TPM) and Telstra (TLS) are in the red, down between 0.4%-0.9%. The materials and industrials are leading the remaining sectors higher. Miners have been boosted by firmer commodity prices overnight, iron ore prices rose 1.4%. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is up 1.6% while both Rio Tinto (RIO) and BHP Group (BHP) are higher by up to 0.5%.
 In company news, consumer facing brands are in the headlines with department store Myer (MYR) releasing its first half profit results this morning. Underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) lifted by 3.1% to $41.3 million despite total and comparable sales falling more than 2%. MYR did manage to lower its costs and improve gross profit margins while online and omnichannel sales lifted around 19%. Shares jumped on the result, up 12% around lunch.
 Elsewhere, Bubs Australia (BUB) is also soaring 18% on a joint venture agreement signed with a Chinese infant nutritionals firm, Beingmate, to promote and distribute Bubs products across 30,000 mother and baby stores in China. Competitor, Bellamy’s Australia (BAL) is also improving by 8%.
So far, 1.1b units have traded worth $2b with 509 stocks higher, 395 weaker and 366 unchanged.Published by CommSec