The Australian share market had a positive day of trade on the back of some better than expected trade data and a fresh bout of overseas confidence amid the US government announcing some countries, such as Canada and Mexico could get some leniency on the steel and aluminium tariffs.
The ASX200 lifted at the open and gathered momentum throughout the trading session, with the majority of sectors trading higher. Out in front, utilities, health stocks such as Resmed (ASX:RMD) and consumer discretionary stocks, like Myer (ASX:MYR), Kogan (ASX:KGN) and Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (ASX:DMP) shining.
The only sectors holding us back today, mining and energy stocks, with the iron ore futures price and oil slipping. Heavy weight BHP (ASX:BHP) traded and closed over 2 per cent lower. South32 (ASX:S32) also fell and the likes of BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL) slipped below the line, erasing earlier gains.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 41 points up, or 0.69 per cent higher at 5,943. On the futures market the SPI is 42 points up.
The value of trades was $5.7 billion on volume of 736 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), and Westpac (ASX:WBC).
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.
The a2 Milk Company (ASX:A2M) presented to Goldman Sachs today and its shares hit another fresh all time high. The milk protein company is going to ramp up its marketing investment in the second half of this financial year, with its spend likely to exceed the first half by NZ$35 to NZ$40 million with the most spending in China and USA. Inventory levels are also expected to build in the second half. a2 Milk (ASX:A2M) shares closed 4.7 per cent higher at $12.25.
The ACCC has announced today that it will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Mantra Group (ASX:MTR) by Accor Hotels. Accor’s business is mainly focused on hotel-style accommodation. Its brands include Sofitel, Novotel and Ibis. Mantra’s focus is on serviced apartments such as Peppers and Breakfree brands.
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
And BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL) saw a bit of yo-yo action today on Trump’s planned tariff on steel and aluminium. The company is also in the midst of a $300 million buy-back with $129 million remaining.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was utilites adding 1.9 per cent to close at 7,541.
The worst performing sector was materials, shedding 0.3 per cent to close at 11,367. points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was IPH (ASX:IPH), rising 5.85 per cent to close at $3.44. Shares in Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia (ASX:GMA) and Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was South32 (ASX:S32), dropping 2.7 per cent to close at $3.25. Shares in Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) and Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 1.5 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.4 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,327 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.78 lower at $US61.35 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.30 US cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mostly lower: Bitcoin has fallen 9 per cent to US$9,781, Tether is trading at US$1.00 and fallen has fallen about 8 per cent to US$745.