Investors in the ASX have had only limited gains after Tuesday’s federal budget, as US President Donald Trump’s decision to delay economic stimulus flattened the mood on Wall Street.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 26.7 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 5988.8 at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries index was up by 31.5 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 6195.7.
The consumer discretionaries sector was best, 1.61 per cent higher, while consumer staples and information technology also had gains of more than one per cent.
Financials was higher by 0.63 per cent, while materials was down 0.54 per cent.
The limited gains come after all three US indices finished lower.
The US results were largely due to the US president’s order to stop negotiating with Democrats on a coronavirus economic stimulus bill until after the November 3 election.
Locally, there were some modest signs of improvement in Victoria’s jobs market after its harsh COVID-19 lockdown.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show payroll jobs rose by 0.4 per cent in the state over the fortnight to September 19. Over the same period, jobs increased 0.3 per cent nationally.
However, payrolls nationally were around 4.1 per cent lower than in mid-March when the coronavirus first hit the Australian economy, and were eight per cent lower in Victoria.
The data came a day after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down a big spending budget aimed at lifting the economy out of its first recession in nearly three decades and creating jobs.
The big four banks were all higher by less than one per cent. The Commonwealth was the best, up by 0.92 per cent to $66.76.
In mining, BHP fell 1.07 per cent to $35.89, Rio Tinto lost 0.22 per cent to $95.80 and Fortescue rose by 0.47 per cent to $16.82.
Gold miner Northern Star dropped 0.78 per cent to $15.17 after a 10.64 per cent on Tuesday on plans to merge with Saracen Mineral.
Saracen continued to rise on Wednesday and was up 0.34 per cent to $5.74.
AGL was lower by 1.31 per cent to $13.52 after chair Graeme Hunt told an annual general meeting shareholders had served a “first strike” over concerns about executive pay.
The shareholders vote against the pay puts pressure on the board of directors to retain their positions.
Under the `two strikes’ rule, if more than 25 per cent of shareholders vote against two consecutive remuneration reports, this triggers a vote on a board spill.
Four-wheel-drive accessories supplier ARB was one of the best early movers, and rose by 3.77 per cent to $30.52.
It said sales rose 17.7 per cent for the first quarter of its financial year, compared to the same period last year.
Exports were responsible for most of the sales growth, while Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown allowed only a moderate sales increase in Australia.
The Aussie dollar was buying 71.08 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 71.81 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.