The Australian share market is back in positive territory and 0.1 per cent higher at noon, after losing 1 per cent over the last two days combined.
From the outset, we had positive leads to follow as Wall Street closed back in record high territory on the back of tech and staples rising
In the first two hours of trade, we have seen gains in half of the sectors, led by the recovery of financials after they were sold down of late. Little know company, Netwealth Group (ASX:NWL) has gained over 6 per cent, while Westpac Banking (ASX:WBC) is up over 1 per cent, while CBA (ASX:CBA) is in the red.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 6 points up or 0.12 per cent higher at 6,022. On the futures market the SPI is 10 points higher.
Local economic news
Trend employment rose for the 14th straight month in December. While seasonally adjusted employment rose by 35,000 people in December, beating forecasts of a 15,000 rise. The unemployment rate rose to 5.5 per cent, surprising economists who expected the seasonally adjusted rate to hold at last month’s 5.4 per cent. Meantime, the labour force participation rate firmed higher to 65.7 per cent.
Alumina (ASX:AWC) has reported Alcoa’s fourth quarter earnings rose 111 per cent in the bauxite and alumina segments, largely due to the steep rise in the alumina price, coupled with its key position in the market. The combined earnings (EBITDA) firmed to $668 million. In 2017 Alumina received over US$343 million in gross distributions from its AWAC joint venture and just this year it’s received a further US$69.9 million. The group also advised today, BlackRock also ceased being a substantial shareholder in the company. Alumina (ASX:AWC) shares are trading 0.6 per cent lower at $2.44.
A director of Global Geoscience (ASX:GSC) has snapped up an extra 200,000 shares in the lithium company which has resources in Nevada, near Tesla’s gigafactory. It also comes just a day after Global Geoscience appointed an industry leading engineering and design firm, Amec (Amec Foster Wheeler) to work on its key project’s pre-feasibility study. GSC’s leader of the project, who has worked with BHP (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), says Amec’s strong team is an exceptionally good fit. Shares in Global Geoscience (ASX:GSC) are trading 2.7 per cent higher at $0.39.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is financials adding 0.6 per cent to 7,258 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nanosonics Limited (ASX:NAN), rising 3.1 per cent to $2.65. Shares in Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX) and Speedcast International Limited (ASX:SDA) are following, as the second and third best performers.
The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 0.9 per cent to 10,825 points.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC), dropping 3.9 per cent to $4.50. Shares in Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX:GXY) and Wisetech Global Limited (ASX:WTC) also following as the second and third worst performers so far this session.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,327 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 79.48 US cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mostly higher.
After Bitcoin’s wild ride from its high of around US$20,000 to its recent low of half of that, it's now gained 0.3 per cent in the last 24 hours to $11,404.
Ethereum lost about 2 per cent to $1,025.
And Ripple has gained about 10 per cent to $1.32