Australian shares have recovered from morning jitters as investors wait for news on the deadly coronavirus and a rates decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 11.6 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 6,934.9 at noon AEDT on Tuesday while the broader All Ordinaries index lifted 12.7 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 7,033.2.
Energy stocks were the hardest hit after oil prices slipped on worries that demand from China will shrink as the coronavirus that’s killed more than 425 people spreads.
Big miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were lower, while Oil Search was down 16.5 cents, or 2.46 per cent, at $6.55 and Santos dropped 7.5 cents, or 0.91 per cent, to $8.175.
Consumer discretionary shares lifted, helped by rises in heavyweights JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman. Online furniture retailer Temple and Webster posted a 50 per cent jump in its unaudited first half revenue.
Temple and Webster gained 56 cents, or 19.79 per cent, to $3.39.
Travel stocks were also having a good day. Qantas was up 6.5 cents, or 1.02 per cent, at $6.435, while Webjet soared 38 cents, or 2.28 per cent, to $11.95.
On the downside was OneVue as the superannuation platform manager was hit for a second day over its exposure to collapsed Sargon Capital. The stock was down 4 cents, or 11.59 per cent, at 30.5 cents.
Big banks were mixed with ANZ, Macquarie and NAB higher while Commonwealth Bank and Westpac were lower.
IG markets analyst Kyle Rodda says the afternoon will generally be focused on the RBA’s first policy meeting for 2020.
“On balance, the market thinks that the RBA will keep interest rates on hold today, with only a 20 per cent chance of a cut implied in market pricing,” he said in a note.
“The primary focus will likely be on the RBA’s commentary about its updated economic forecasts, ahead of its quarterly monetary policy statement on Friday.”
The Aussie was buying 66.90 US cents, from 67.02 US cents at the market close on Monday.