SYDNEY, AAP – Australian shares have climbed to a record high after Suncorp’s strong full-year earnings boosted enthusiasm for financial stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 7.1 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 7545.50 at noon after the index reached a record 7567 points earlier.
Meanwhile the All Ordinaries was up one point, or 0.01 per cent, to 7807.5.
The advances, although slight, were helped by US markets closing higher at the end of last week. The Dow and the S&P 500 indexes closed at record highs following a stronger-than-expected jobs report.
US non-farm payrolls increased by more than expected and showed strong wage gains.
Financial shares were the standout in the local market.
Suncorp on Monday revealed full-year cash earnings improved by 42 per cent, and delighted shareholders with a special dividend and on-market buyback.
Shares surged by 7.92 per cent to $12.80 by 1200 AEST.
Suncorp’s performance may have encouraged investors to buy financial shares as earnings season gets under way.
The Commonwealth Bank will report its full-year earnings on Wednesday.
The big four, along with Macquarie, were all higher by more than one per cent.
Westpac will sell its Australian life insurance business to TAL Dai-ichi Life Australia, following similar moves by its rivals. The bank will reap $900 million from the sale and continue providing life insurance to customers via TAL.
Shares were up 1.45 per cent to $25.48.
Property shares were the only other category with gains of note at 0.6 per cent.
Materials shares had the biggest fall, 1.17 per cent, as the price of iron ore continued to slip. BHP dropped 0.61 per cent to $51.78. Fortescue lost almost two per cent to $22.59. Rio Tinto shed 1.52 per cent to $128.07.
Toll road operator Transurban also reported earnings, declaring a statutory profit of $3.27 billion, underpinned by $3.73 billion from the sale of its Chesapeake assets in North America.
Transurban has missed out on toll revenue as fewer people travel to work amid coronavirus lockdowns. It also revealed the costs of the West Gate tunnel project in Melbourne have blown out by about $3.3 billion.
The stock fell by 1.81 per cent to $14.05.
Brickworks said coronavirus rules in NSW and Queensland had forced it to stop production at some sites. Both states have had lockdowns in recent weeks, and Brickworks’ sales have fallen. Its shares were down 2.62 per cent to $24.51.
The Australian dollar was buying 73.49 US cents at 1200 AEST on Monday, lower from 73.88 US cents at Friday’s close.