Optimism and trade data boost: Aus shares 0.5% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market is trading higher today, despite mixed leads from Wall Street. In the first two hours of trade we have seen most of the sectors trade higher with utilities, consumer discretionary stocks like Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (ASX:DMP), along with health stocks such as Ramsay Health Care (ASX:RHC) and industrials, like IPH (ASX:IPH) rally.

It comes as local traders and investors are hopefully that Australia may be spared from the US steel and aluminium tariffs, after the White House suggested Canada and Mexico could be handed lighter levies.

Helping bode the confidence today, a better bout of Australian trade data.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.5 per cent higher or 28 points up at 5,930. On the futures market the SPI is 32 points higher.

In local economic news

Australia’s balance of trade surged ahead in January to a surplus of about $1.1 billion, surpassing analysts’ expectations it would grow to a surplus of just $300 million. It also comes as seasonally adjusted exports of goods and services rose 4 per cent, while imports, fell 2 per cent. Meaning the government earnt more than it spent.

And the managed fund industry increased 3 per cent in the December quarter to $3.3 trillion.

Company news 

BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL) has been advancing today on the back of fresh optimism for Trump’s planned tariff on steel and aluminium. BlueScope also in the midst of a $300 million buy-back with $129 million remaining. At noon its shares are trading 0.8 per cent higher at $15.97.

Aged care provider, Regis Healthcare (ASX:REG) has been advised by the Federal Court that its Asset Replacement Charge (ARC) that it levies on residents is not consistent with the Aged Care Act. As a result, Regis stopped charging residents the ARC as of 2 March 2018 and started refunding residents the charge plus interest. The health company says its FY17 results already factored in a provision for this. As a result, there will not be any impact on NPAT and EBITDA in FY18. Shares in Regis Healthcare are trading 0.5 per cent higher at $4.02

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Consumer Discretionary adding 1.3 per cent to 2,277 points while the worst performing sector is Materials, shedding 0.2 per cent to 11,377 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is IPH (ASX:IPH), rising 5.85 per cent to $3.44, followed by shares in Wisetech Global Limited (ASX:WTC) and Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia ASX: GMA).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Regis Resources (ASX:RRL), dropping 3.1 per cent to $4.44, followed by shares in G8 Education Limited (ASX:GEM) and BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP).

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,327 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.27 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower: Bitcoin has fallen 7 per cent to US$10,071, Tether is trading US$1.00 and Ethereum has fallen about 7 per cent to US$761.