Lithium miners lead the charge: Aus shares 0.4% higher at noon | Finance News Network

Lithium miners lead the charge: Aus shares 0.4% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market kicked higher at the open on the back of Wall Street’s rebound and the oil price slight claw back from its losses. Overnight we saw interest rates, the benchmark 10-year US note yield, hit a four-year high, which also added to today’s local positive sentiment.

Over half of the major sectors are propelling us ahead with telcos in the lead, followed by mining stocks, utilities and healthcare stocks.

Australian lithium darling, one of 2017’s star performers, Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) has gained over 8 per cent on the back of some outstanding results, while the likes of Cooper Energy (ASX:COE) is trading over 4 per cent higher after it reported its results yesterday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 21 points up or 0.4 per cent at 5,841. On the futures market the SPI is 37 points higher.

Company news

Investment management firm, Challenger Limited (ASX:CGF) reported a slight fall in its statutory profit attributable to shareholders over the six months to 31 December 2017 when compared to the same time last year with its NPAT falling 3 per cent to $195 million on the back of a ‘lower investment experience’. Meantime its total net inflows grew 22 per cent over the six months, compared to 2016’s year-end to $3.9 billion. It also declared a higher dividend with its interim dividend being 17.5 cents per share. Challenger (ASX:CGF) shares are trading 0.4 per cent lower at $12.78.

QBE Insurance (ASX:QBE) reported a rise in its net earned premium for its Asia Pacific and Latin American regions for the year ending 31 December 2017 and for the half year ending 30 June 2017. Its insurance profit margin in both regions was 5.5 per cent for the full year ending December 2017. As for the half year results ending June 30 2017, the Latin American region year hit US$360 million, while the Asian Pacific region saw about US$320 million in net earned premiums. QBE shares are trading almost 1 per cent higher at $10.43.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is telcos adding 1.3 per cent to 1,258 points while the worst performing sector is reits, shedding 0.6 per cent to 1,284 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), rising 8.5 per cent to $0.86, followed by shares in Ococobre (ASX:ORE) and St Barbara (ASX:SBM).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Myer (ASX:Myer), dropping 3.6 per cent to $0.53, followed by shares in Scentre (ASX:SCG) and Iron Mountain (ASX:INM).

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,323 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.59 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mostly higher. Bitcoin has gained about 8 per cent to US$8,936 Tether is flat US$1.00 and Ethereum is trading 4 per cent higher to US$868