SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market closed higher as investors welcomed news the US and Russia will meet to try and resolve the Ukraine standoff that has kept oil prices soaring.
The gains were incremental on Monday while AGL shares surged after tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes made an unsuccessful takeover bid.
Abroad, global investors remain fixed on the Ukraine where Russia has massed troops on the border. European and US leaders have threatened economic sanctions if Russian troops invade.
The price of Brent crude oil, recently at more than seven-year highs, eased from $US94 per barrel to $US92 per barrel after news US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet. The time and place is to be decided.
On the market, utilities shares were the biggest movers in either direction.
Top Australian Brokers
They were up three per cent mostly due to the clamour for shares in AGL.
The gas provider rose 10 per cent to $7.92 after Mr Cannon-Brookes and investment firm Brookfield pitched a $5 billion bid.
The consumer staples category, which includes the supermarkets, was next best and rose two per cent.
Technology shares fared worst, down two per cent, after the US Nasdaq closed lower on Friday.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 11.9 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7233.6 points.
The index is about 400 points below its record high in August, 7632.8 points.
In the current trading day, the All Ordinaries index closed higher by 4.2 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 7507 points.
In Australia, vaccinated overseas visitors began arriving after the nation eased coronavirus controls.
The visitors will boost the travel, education and retail industries, among others.
ASX investors will look to European markets for their lead tomorrow. Wall Street will be closed for a public holiday.
There were more earnings reports from companies on the Australian market.
Super Retail Group had first-half profit dive 35 per cent and warned higher freight and transport costs will continue to affect margins.
The company behind BCF, Macpac, Rebel and Supercheap Auto said COVID-19 lockdowns and higher costs contributed to a lower net profit after tax of $110.8 million for the six months to December 25.
Super Retail Group was down nine per cent to $11.63.
Ampol returned to full-year profit largely due to an inventory gain of $219.5 million.
Investors will receive a fully franked final dividend of 41 cents per share.
Ampol was down three per cent to $30.27.
Telstra and TPG will share their regional networks in what they claim will provide better service to people outside the major cities.
The two carriers revealed a 10-year regional multi-operator core network deal which will improve coverage without the need for costly network rollouts.
Telstra was up one per cent to $3.97.
TPG was up three per cent to $5.97.
In mining, Fortescue continued its downward spiral from last week’s lower first-half profit. Shares were down one per cent to $19.61.
Among major rivals, Rio Tinto improved less than one per cent to $120.20. BHP rose about half a per cent to $48.24.
Companies due to report earnings on Tuesday include Cochlear, Coles and Seven Group.
The Australian dollar was buying 72.14 US cents at 1723 AEDT, higher than 72.00 US cents at Friday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 11.9 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7233.6 points on Monday.
* The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 4.2 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 7507 points.
* At 1723 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down four points, or 0.06 per cent, at 7155 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 72.14 US cents, from 72.00 cents on Friday
* 82.91 Japanese yen, from 82.97 yen
* 63.47 Euro cents, from 63.37 cents
* 52.96 British pence, from 52.90 pence
* 107.32 NZ cents, from 107.32 cents.