On a roll: Aus shares to open higher

Market Reports

by Kathy Skantzos

It was a positive day of trade in yesterday’s session on Wall Street. The major indicies finished at record highs, with the Dow up more than 100 points. The S&P 500 had the best start to the year in 30 years. The Nasdaq is also continuing to rally, still sitting above 7,100. Retailer Target reported same-store sales growth of 3.4 per cent for the holiday spending season, which was more than expected, resulting in a 2.9 per cent hike in its share price. Investors are anticipating quarterly results from financial institutions BlackRock, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo later this week.

In commodities, gold has fallen while oil is tracking 2 per cent higher, and iron ore has dropped slightly.

US economic news

Small business optimism in the US fell short of market expectations, falling to 104.9 in December.

Consumer confidence increased 3.4 per cent last week, compared to the same time last year.

Job openings fell to 5.9 million in November, below market expectations of 6 million, the lowest level since May.

Local economic news

NAB will release business confidence figures for December, which fell in November.

Figures

Wall Street closed in the green yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 per cent to close at 25,386, the S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent to close at 2,751 and the NASDAQ is up 0.1 per cent to close at 7,164.

European markets closed higher: London’s FTSE gained 0.5 per cent, Paris lost is up 0.7 per cent and Frankfurt added 0.1 per cent.

Asian markets closed higher: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 0.6 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite picked up 0.1 per cent.

Back home, the Australian share market closed higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 5 points up to finish at 6,136.

On the futures market the SPI is 23 points up.

Company news

Insurance company QBE (ASX:QBE) has announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer for its Australian and New Zealand operations. Vivek Bhatia will commence in the position in first quarter of this year. The role reports to the Group CEO Pat Regan and forms part of the group executive team. Vivek joins QBE from icare, a New South Wales public financial corporation managing the state’s insurance and care schemes, and has worked in insurance for 15 years. Shares in QBE (ASX:QBE) closed 2 per cent lower yesterday at $10.54.

Gaming company Aristocrat (ASX:ALL) has announced the completion of the acquisition of social gaming company Big Fish from Churchill Downs. Aristocrat’s CEO and Managing Director Trevor Crocker said the strategic and financial benefits of the acquisition are highly compelling. He said Big Fish will provide scale across the entire digital platform, and its social casino business will become the second largest social casino publisher globally. Shares in Aristocrat (ASX:ALL) closed 1.65 per cent lower yesterday at $22.66.

Currencies

One Australian Dollar at 8:45 M was buying 78.24 US cents, 57.79 Pence Sterling, 88.11 Yen and 65.56 Euro cents.

Commodities

Gold has lost $6.90 to $US1,314 an ounce.
Silver has lost $0.13 to $US17.01 an ounce.
Oil has gained $1.62 to $US63.34 a barrel.

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has fallen 2.72 per cent in the last 24 hours to US$14,734.
Ethereum gained about 9 per cent to US$1,263.
Litecoin shed about 2 per cent to US$250.