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Australian Market Edges Higher

The Australian stock market is edging higher on Wednesday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street as investors awaited new developments on the U.S.-China trade front. As part of a "phase one" trade deal, China is reportedly continuing to press the U.S. to remove tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods imposed in September.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 6.40 points or 0.10 percent to 6,703.50, after touching a high of 6,715.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 5.20 points or 0.08 percent to 6,816.80. Australian stocks closed slightly higher on Tuesday.

Oil stocks are higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent, Santos is up 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.5 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Banking are up in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent. National Australia Bank is unchanged.

The major miners are mostly higher. BHP Billiton is advancing more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is adding 0.3 percent, while Fortescue Metals is lower by more than 1 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 3 percent after safe-haven gold prices closed lower for a second straight session overnight.

Boral said its first-quarter earnings declined across all three of its divisions and reiterated its outlook for full-year profit to decrease between 5 percent and 15 percent. The building material maker's shares are losing almost 3 percent.

Bubs Australia said it has signed a deal with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to ship goat milk powder into China. The company's shares are rising almost 3 percent.

Medibank said claims grew by A$21 million more than expected in the full year 2019 and will continue to rise through fiscal 2020, reflecting higher private hospital payments and prosthesis costs. The private health insurer's shares are losing more than 8 percent.

Coles Group said it has launched a subscription service offering customers' unlimited home deliveries. The supermarket giant's shares are adding 0.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6892, down from $0.6905 on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday after seeing early strength amid continued optimism that U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will sign phase one of an agreement sometime this month. As part of the deal, the U.S. is likely to scrap tariffs on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports currently set to take effect on December 15. Buying interest was somewhat subdued, however, as traders wait for more concrete developments before continuing to buy stocks following the recent run to record highs.

While the S&P 500 edged down 3.65 points or 0.1 percent at 3,074.62, the Dow ticked up 30.52 points or 0.1 percent to 27,492.63 and the Nasdaq inched up 1.48 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 8,434.68.

The major European markets showed modest moves to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices extended recent gains on Tuesday amid continued optimism about the outlook for global demand. WTI crude for December delivery advanced $0.69 or 1.2 percent to $57.23 a barrel.

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