SYDNEY, AAP – Investors have pushed the Australian share market from lower to higher and overlooked fears about economic sanctions on Russia which have plagued Wall Street.
The ASX turned positive shortly before 1200 AEDT as the commodity-based share categories of materials and energy each rose by two per cent.
Commodity prices have surged since Russia invaded Ukraine. Traders are worried about supply difficulties. Brent crude oil last traded for $US104.97 per barrel.
The share market was mixed however, with the heavyweight category of financials down by almost one per cent.
The biggest losses were in consumer discretionaries, telecommunications and property. Each fell one per cent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 14.8 points, or 0.20 per cent, to 7111.3 points at 1200 AEDT.
The All Ordinaries index rose 12.8 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 7398.1 points.
In the US, President Joe Biden will soon reveal more about his plans to tackle Russia and inflation.
Mr Biden will give his State of the Union speech and is expected to heap pressure on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine or be economically isolated.
He will also call for more cars and semiconductors to be made in the United States. This would reduce the chance of supply-chain difficulties forcing prices and inflation higher.
In Australia, the economy raced back after the impact of last year’s Delta lockdowns.
The December quarter national accounts showed the economy grew by a hefty 3.4 per cent, rebounding from a 1.9 per cent contraction in the September quarter.
Annual growth rose to 4.2 per cent.
On the ASX, Australian lithium producer Core Lithium will supply electric car maker Tesla as part of a four-year deal.
Core will supply 110,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate, used to make lithium batteries in electric cars, from its Finniss project near Darwin.
Core was up 15 per cent to 95 cents.
Sigma Healthcare raised its full-year earnings forecast after strong demand for rapid antigen test kits.
Underlying earnings for the 12 months to January are expected to be 10 to 15 per cent higher than the previous period.
Sigma is likely to report a statutory loss of between $5 million and $10 million due to an accounting change.
Sigma was up three per cent to 51 cents.
The miners were soaring as commodity prices, including iron ore, climbed.
BHP and Fortescue were each up three per cent to $48.11 and $18.42 respectively, while Rio Tinto gained four per cent to $122.79.
Mineral Resources chairman Peter Wade has retired from the board after 23 years with the company. Board member James McClements will takeover the role.
Mineral Resources was up almost one per cent to $45.76.
Most of the banks were down. ANZ fared worst of the big four and shed one per cent to $25.86.
The Commonwealth Bank was the only one of the group higher. It rose less than half a per cent to $95.03.
Elsewhere, Beach Energy is selling eight Cooper Basin tenements to Bass Oil for $650,000.
Bass Oil raised $1.2 million from a share sale to buy the South Australian assets.
Beach was up almost two per cent to $1.57. Bass was unchanged at 0.002 cents.
The Australian dollar was buying 72.64 US cents at 1200 AEDT, more than the 72.59 US cents at Tuesday’s close.