SYDNEY, AAP – ASX investors have raised the indices despite the US Federal Reserve’s decision to ease bond purchases and a big drop in oil prices.

Shares were a little higher on Thursday and most categories were up following more record closing highs on Wall Street.

The US central bank will begin easing pandemic support for the economy by $US15 billion per month starting from November. An additional $US15 billion will be cut from December.

Investors anticipated the decision and appeared comfortable with the bond-buying winding up by mid-2022.

There were less comfort for those with energy stocks.


Top Australian Brokers


Brent crude fell to $81.21 per barrel at 1200 AEDT after a larger than expected rise in crude stocks last week.

Oil and gas provider Beach dipped more than three per cent. There were losses of more than two per cent for Oil Search, Santos and Woodside.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 24 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7416.7.

The All Ordinaries was up 25.1 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7738.1.

On the economic front, retail sales were down a record 4.4 per cent in the September quarter as COVID-19 lockdowns hampered trade in the major states.

International trade figures for September showed a trade surplus for the month of $12.24 billion, smaller than the record $15.1 billion reached in August.

In ASX company moves, Afterpay rose 1.9 per cent after Square shareholders voted for the merger of the two companies.

Australian courts are still to approve the $39 billion all-stock deal.

Investors were dumping Domino’s Pizza shares after company leaders warned of challenging times after lockdowns.

They told the annual general meeting on Wednesday that consumer habits were changing post-lockdowns.

Sales in Japan, the nation with the most Domino’s stores, have slipped since restrictions were eased.

Shares plummeted 11.81 per cent to $125.49.

Building products provider CSR has improved first-half profit but reported projects were taking longer due to supply chain difficulties and worker shortages.

Net profit after tax and before significant items was up 30 per cent to $86.6 million.

The interim dividend was 13.5 cents per share, fully franked. This compares with a previous interim payout of 10 cents per share and a special dividend of four cents per share. Last year’s payouts were 50 per cent franked.

Shares were up 3.83 per cent to $6.35.

The big miners were mixed. BHP was up about half a per cent. Fortescue and Rio Tinto each lost more than one per cent.

In banking, the Commonwealth was best and higher by almost one per cent.

Health insurer NIB climbed after revealing first-quarter sales improved more than eight per cent on the same period last year.

The company gained more customers and claims were down.

Sales of travel insurance also improved.

Shares were up 4.88 per cent to $7.08.

The Australian dollar was buying 74.58 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 74.37 cents at Wednesday’s close.