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The Aussie market is edging higher towards lunch despite SPI futures initially pointing at a weaker start. The ASX 200 is lifting 18 points or 0.3% to 5671.2 points. Global markets provided a strong lead with the major US indices climbing between 0.5-1% as trade tensions ease between China and the United States. US technology and energy companies were among the best performers.
The heavyweight sectors of materials and financials are driving local gains most. The four major banks are all lifting with ANZ Bank (ANZ) higher by 1%. Westpac (WBC) is 0.35% higher following its AGM yesterday. Iron ore rose overnight to support major miners. BHP and Rio Tinto are both rising 1.5% while South32 (S32) is advancing 3%.
Holding the market back is heavy losses among our telecommunications providers. TPG Telecom (TPM) is sliding 14.5% following ACCC concerns regarding its proposed merger with Vodafone Australia. The consumer watchdog has expressed preliminary doubts with diminished competition and potential price rises. Hutchison Telecom (HTA), which has a 50% stake in Vodafone Australia is also slumping 21%. Telstra (TLS) is also facing a public inquiry surrounding its service prices and fixed line services. TLS is easing 2%.
Sonic Healthcare (SHL) has resumed trade after completed a $600 million institutional placement to help fund its $750 million acquisition of a US pathology business announced yesterday. Sonic is also looking to undertake a $100 million retail share purchase plan. SHL shares are 1.7% higher.
Agribusiness, Elders (ELD) shares are rebounding 2.2% from several sessions of losses earlier in the week as it holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM) today. Several broker upgrades have helped improve a number of stocks including building materials maker, Adelaide Brighton (ABC) up 4.8% and Whitehaven Coal (WHC) advancing 2.7%. Gold miner St Barbara (SBM) is weaker by 3.6% on a broker downgrade.
Without any major economic releases to move the Aussie dollar, our local currency is holding steady near 72.2 US cents.
So far today, 0.9B units have exchanged worth $1.8B with 464 stocks higher, 358 lower and 319 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec