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It has been another positive start for the Aussie market with the ASX 200 higher for a fourth consecutive day and is eyeing a second straight week of gains. Approaching lunch, the index is up 36 points or 0.6% to 5886. US stocks provided another solid lead as Wall Street’s mood was brightened on reports that the US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, may ease tariffs on China during the trade negotiation period.
The local market continues to rise as the session progress with all sectors in positive territory. Healthcare and financials are among the main contributors to the gains. The four major banks are all lifting with ANZ Bank (ANZ) leading the improvements.
Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is 0.6% higher as Australia’s largest bank has flagged a $169 million hit to its first half earnings. The loss is associated to transaction costs for the recent sales of its wealth and insurance businesses along with AUD depreciation. CBA will also look to update its reporting as it simplifies its operating model.
The resources sectors are also supporting broader gains despite mixed trade for global oil and base metals prices overnight. BHP Group (BHP) is lifting 1% while Rio Tinto (RIO) is advancing 0.8% after releasing a quarterly production update. RIO’s quarterly iron ore shipment and productions were weaker on the prior year, but both rose 2% on an annualised basis. Bauxite production was also down but copper jumped 20% over the quarter.
Afterpay Touch (APT) shares are jumping 12% as the buy now pay later provider recorded underlying sales around $2.2 billion over 1H19, soaring 240% on 1H18 with Afterpay announcing December sales as the largest month on record. Later fees as a percentage of total income were also estimated to have declined below 20% over the half.
The Aussie dollar is clawing its way back towards 72 US cents as it buys 71.95 US cents on trade optimism.
So far, 0.8b units have traded worth $1.5b with 565 stocks higher, 318 lower and 327 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec