It’s been a positive day of trade for the Australian share market, with all sectors rising and telcos seeing the biggest rally followed by energy and utilities. Real estate investment trust saw the least change.
The ASX200 rose at the open and maintained momentum before it closed 1.13 per cent higher, that’s 67 points finishing at 5962.
From the get go, the ASX had positive leads to follow as all the major indices gained despite the US President standing by his plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium. Still saying overseas, Wall Street is eyeing a rise at the open with the Dow futures pointing to a gain of 30 points.
The ASX futures are pointing to a 66 points up.
The value of trades was $5.7 billion on volume of 781 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value wereBHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), Westpac Banking (ASX:WBC) and the Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA).
Local economic news
Australia’s current account deficit increased to $14 billion, the rise was worse than the $12.2 billion deficit forecast.
Meantime, Australian retail sales ticked higher in January by 0.1 per cent, recovering from a 0.5 per cent fall in December 2017 in seasonally adjust terms. This growth was not as strong as the market was hoping with economists expecting a 0.4 per cent rise. Pockets of growth were seen in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, books and newspapers.
And of course the RBA kept interest rates on hold today at 1.5 per cent as the market expected.
Telecommunications company Vocus (ASX:VOC) has announced a change in its leadership team with Vaughan Bowen leaving after only five months as chairman. Taking his place is former Telstra chairman Bob Mansfield. This comes just a week after the company announced the departure of chief executive Geoff Horth. In addition Craig Farrow who had been deputy chair of Vocus until October last year also resigned today. Craig Farrow and Vaughan Bowen began their M2-Vocus journeys together almost 19 years ago. The company reported a 21 per cent fall in first-half profit to $37.3 million. Shares in Vocus Group rose 6.19 higher at $2.40.
News Corp (ASX:NWS) and Telstra have signed agreements to combine Foxtel and FOX SPORTS Australia.News Corp currently owns 100 per cent of Fox Sports. It’s 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.
Medical cannabis company Cann Group (ASX:CAN) has been granted import permits by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).The permits will allow the company to begin the import of genetics and cannabis oils from its Canadian partners. Cann will bring four products developed by Aurora Canabis to Australia, which will be made available to medical practitioners seeking to provide medicinal cannabis to patients.
Global water and wastewater company Fluence (ASX:FLC) Corporation has announced its landed $8 million US dollars worth of new contracts since the start of this year
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was telcos adding 2.2 per cent to close at 1222. The worst performing sector was REITS, losing 0.05 per cent to close at 1306. points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Lynas Corporation Group (ASX:LYC), rising 6.82 per cent to close at $2.35. Shares in Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) and Australian Pharmaceuticals Industries (ASX:API) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG), dropping 11.97 per cent to close at $1.14. Shares in Nufarm (ASX:API) and Myer Holdings (ASX:MYR) followed lower.
Asian markets are higher. Japan’s Nikkei has added 2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 1.4 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.2 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,323 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.36 up at $US62.61 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.75 US cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower:
Bitcoin lost 2 per cent to US$11,329
Tether lost 0.02 per cent trading at $1
Ethereum lost 2 per cent to US$848.