Market extends yesterday’s gains

The Australian sharemarket is extending yesterday’s gains, helped by a positive lead from Wall Street where the S&P 500 Index briefly hit a record high as the US Federal Reserve flagged further rate cuts. In testimony to the US House Financial Services Committee US Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank will “act as appropriate” to sustain the expansion as “crosscurrents” are weighing on the economic outlook.

The IT sector is the best performer, mirroring gains by US counterparts overnight. WiseTech Global (WTC) is up 2.7% to $30.21, Appen Limited (APX) has gained 2.9% to $30.29, while Xero (XRO) is firmer by 1.3% to $64.30.

The Energy sector is also a standout helped by a jump in global oil prices overnight. Nymex Light Sweet Crude surged 4.5% to US$60.43 a barrel after data showed US crude stocks fell by 9.5 million barrels in the week to July 5, falling more than three times the 3.1 million barrels analysts had expected. Santos (STO) is up 1.5% to $6.95, while Woodside Petroleum (WPL) has climbed 0.4% to $36.15.

In company news, Virgin Australia (VAH) shares have dipped 4.4% to $16.25 after the airline said Affinity Equity Partners – which paid $336 million for a 35% stake in Virgin’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program in 2014 – has requested “various exit options for the sale of its stake be considered.”

Whitehaven Coal (WHC) shares are up a strong 4.9% to $3.83 after the miner reported solid June quarter production results. The miner received better than expected prices for its thermal coal over the period, averaging US$84 a tonne. Production of 7.3Mt was up 25% on the previous corresponding period, while sales rose 12% to 5.3Mt.

Michael Hill International (MHJ) shares are down 2.6% to $0.555 after the jewelleryretailer said it will spend $10-25 million to compensate employees who were underpaid over a six-year period.

1.07b shares have been traded, worth $3.17b. 615 stocks are higher, 401 are weaker, while 345 are unchanged.

In economic news, the number of new home-loan approvals fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in May, less than the 1 fall economists had been expecting. While the value of total mortgage lending, excluding refinancing, fell by 2.4% in May to $16.5 billion.

Published by CommSec