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Aussie shares are lifting for a third day, shaking off a softer start and the biggest tumble since June in the US last night. The ASX 200 index is up by 0.3 per cent at lunch however caps off what has been a lacklustre week for local equities.
Financial stocks continue to recoup part of the losses recorded from Monday to Wednesday. The big banks are up by as much as 0.75 per cent. QBE Insurance (QBE) is lifting by 2 per cent as some of its $23bn in investments benefit from higher US interest rates which are at fresh seven-year highs.
Wesfarmers (WES) has entered a trading halt at the request of the company ahead of some details on its planned $20bn demerger of supermarket chain Coles.
Mining stocks are a little firmer at lunch. Aluminium companies have been the best this week thanks to the closure of the world’s largest alumina refinery in Brazil. Alumina is the key ingredient used to make aluminium. This news yesterday has helped boost producers including South32 (S32) which is up 9 per cent in just five days.
Energy stocks are doing well to ignore a 3 per cent slide in oil prices overnight. The focus instead is on the 15 per cent lift in the commodity since August ahead of US sanctions on Iran which are set to hit next month. The oil price is currently at four-year highs.
Beach Energy (BPT) is down 3 per cent and one of the few oil and gas producers to lose ground at lunch. The SA based petroleum company has cut its production and profitguidance for FY19 after agreeing to sell some of its Victoria assets for $344m in cash.
The price of iron ore has been steady at US$69.6/t all week due to national holidays in China (the world’s largest iron ore consumer).
On the economic front a report showed that retail spending edged higher by 0.3 per cent in August; in-line with consensus expectations. The annual rate accelerated to 3.8 per cent over the past year which is the fastest pace since 2016. Spending rose most at department stores followed by clothing and finally cafes and restaurants.
1.1bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $2.2bn. 497 stocks are up, 498 down and 371 are flat.
Published by CommSec