The Australian share market opened higher following positive leads from Wall Street and is now tracking 1.2 per cent up at noon. Investor confidence is returning as talks of a trade war ease.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 71 points up . On the futures market the SPI is 76 points higher.
The energy sector is leading the way and the REITs sector trailing behind in the first two hours of trade.
Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) is among the top performers following the announcement of the appointment of Bob Mansfield as the company’s new chairman. But its more bad news for Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG), which continues to slide on the back of last weeks announcements of heavy write downs and store closures.
Local economic news
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its retail trade figures showing a deficit of $14 billion - worse than the estimated $12.2 billion deficit predicted. Australian retail turnover rose 0.1 per cent in January. This follows a 0.5 per cent fall in December. The growth was not as strong as expected, economists had forecast a 0.4 per cent increase.
Current account deficit fell deeper into the red to $14 billion from $9 billion, exceeding an estimated $12.2 billion dollar deficit
News Corp (ASX:NWS) and Telstra (ASX:TLS) have signed agreements to combine Foxtel and FOX SPORTS Australia.
News Corp currently owns 100 per cent of Fox Sports. Its also the joint owner of Foxtel with Telstra in a 50/50 joint venture. The ACCC did voice concerns about the deal in October last year. But by the end of the year they decided not to oppose the merger. The combined entity will be headed by Foxtel’s chief executive Patrick Delaney. Shares in News Corp (ASX:NWS) are trading 1.89 per cent higher at $21.06.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is energy adding 2.1 per cent to 10214 points while the worst performing sector is REITs, gaining 0.4 per cent to 1312 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Qantas (ASX:QAN), rising 5.26 per cent to $5.91, followed by shares in Wisetech (ASX:WTC) and Pilbarra Minerals (ASX:PLS).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Retail food Group (ASX:RFG), dropping 13.71 per cent to $1.12, followed by shares in Nufarm (ASX:NUF) and A2 Milk (ASX:A2M).
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,323 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.79 US cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower.
Bitcoin has dropped 2 per cent to US$11288, Ethereum fallen about 3 per cent to US$842, and Ripple has lost about 4 per cent to US$0.95.