SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market was marginally lower and there were losses in most sectors after modest gains on US markets.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 17.9 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 6661.2 at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries was down 10.8 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6928.3.
Consumer staples was the hardest hit sector and lost 1.66 per cent. There were also losses of more than one per cent for health, property and information technology.
Energy was the standout performer. The sector rose 3.38 per cent after oil prices hit an 11-month high just below $US57 a barrel, bolstered by Saudi Arabia’s plans to limit supply,
Earlier in the US, some investors told Reuters they were cautious ahead of earnings season and due to developments in Washington after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building last week.
Democrats have moved to impeach Trump for inciting the deadly rampage.
In Australia, the lofty unemployment rate looks set for improvement with job vacancies rising as the economy recovers from last year’s recession.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said job vacancies in the November quarter jumped 23.4 per cent to be 12 per cent higher than a year earlier and surpassing pre-COVID levels seen in February.
ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said the 48,000 rise in the November quarter follows the sharp 77,000 increase reported three months earlier as COVID restrictions continued to be relaxed across Australia.
There was only one local coronavirus infection reported from NSW and Victoria, linked to a Sydney cluster. Other infections were reported from travellers in quarantine.
On the ASX, Premier Investments, the company behind stores including Just Jeans, Portmans and Smiggle, raised its first-half earnings expectation to up to 85 per cent better than the 2020 first-half.
Premier said first-half 2021 earnings before tax were expected to be 75 to 85 per cent better than the 2020 equivalent, which would produce earnings of between $221 million and $233 million.
Online sales were a big factor. These were up 60 per cent on the same period last year to $146.2 million.
Shares reached a record high of $26.70.
They had since eased to be better by 13.82 per cent to $25.60.
Energy companies prospered following the rise in oil prices.
Woodside rose 4.73 per cent to $26.52 and Oil Search was up 4.66 per cent to $4.37.
In health, CSL shed 0.97 per cent to $270.40.
In mining, BHP rose 0.47 per cent to $46.22, Fortescue gained 0.45 per cent to $25.24 and Rio Tinto climbed 0.65 per cent to $122.20.
In banking, NAB had the biggest loss of the big four, down 0.46 per cent to $23.35.
Westpac was best and rose 0.17 per cent to $20.52.
AVZ Minerals was another of the better performers across the market.
It rose 4.87 per cent to 21 cents after claiming a consultant verified its Manono lithium sulphate product can be used to help make batteries.
The company is planning a lithium sulphate plant in the Congo.
On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated near unchanged for the session, not far from record highs. The Dow rose 0.19 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.04 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.28 per cent.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.66 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 76.91 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.