The Australian share market bounced 0.6 per cent higher in the first 30 minutes on trade on the back of solid Wall Street leads after the Dow Jones closed above 26,000 for the first time since 26 February after it rose 1.3 per cent, while the S&P added 1.2 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 1.3 per cent. It comes as US manufacturing activity expanded, rebounding from its lowest level from late 2016, coupled with better than expected China manufacturing data.
Most of the sectors are in the black today ahead of the Federal Budget being handed down this evening, with the small tech sector up the most, mirroring US equities theme, while the Healthcare and Energy sectors are up about 1 per cent.
Stand out stocks so far include Hub24 (ASX:HUB) which gained over 5 per cent while Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) has also added over 5 per cent, along with Afterpay (ASX:APT) which is close on their heels.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.8 per cent or 50 points higher at 6,267 points. On the futures market the SPI is 49 points higher.
Local economic news
Housing approvals rose 19.1 per cent in February (in seasonally adjusted terms), beating consensus the rate would fall 1 per cent in the month. It comes as large approvals were seen in Victoria (37.3 per cent) and New South Wales (25.2 per cent). Private dwellings excluding houses rose 64.6 per cent, while private houses fell by 3.6 per cent.
The RBA is expected to release its interest rate decision at 2.30pm with the market expecting rates will remain at 1.5 per cent for the 28th consecutive month. NAB and UBS expect there will be two rate cuts later this year.
Debt buying company, Credit Corp Group (ASX:CCP) has raised $125 million in capital with via an institutional placement with 6.1 million shares to be issued at a price of $20.45 per share. The funds will be used to increase the group’s funding and ‘support the group’s key strategic initiatives’. The new shares will be allotted on Friday 5 April 2019. In addition to that, existing shareholders will be able to take part in a $10 million share purchase plan. Shares in Credit Corp Group (ASX:CCP) are trading 1.9 per cent lower at $21.75 at noon.
Steel producer, Bluescope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL) is continuing its $250 million share buyback and has bought back $94.8 million shares in the last two days. Shares Bluescope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL) are trading 3.3 per cent higher at $14.70 at noon.
The former CEO of Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) Ian Narev has been hired by job-seeking company Seek (ASX:SEK) as its group chief operating officer and as the CEO of Asia Pacific and Americas. Ian will work closely with the group CEO and co-founder Andrew Basset on Seek’s strategy and operations. Ian will start the dual role as COO and CEO of AP&A on 29 April 2019. Seek (ASX:SEK) shares are trading 1.5 per cent higher at $17.50 at noon.
Santos’ (ASX:STO) co-owned Papua New Guinea LNG project has inked a sales agreement with Unipec Singapore, which takes its total contracted volumes to 7.9 million tonnes per annum. Santos has a 13.5 per cent interest in PNG LNG, while Oil Search (ASX:OSH) has a 29 per cent stake in the project. Santos’ (ASX:STO) shares are trading 1.1 per cent higher at $6.88 at noon.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector was S&P/ASX 200 Financials adding 1.1 per cent, followed by S&P/ASX 200 Energy, and S&P/ASX 200 Consumer Discretionary while the worst performing sector is S&P/ASX 200 A-REIT, shedding 0.1 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR), rising 8.1 per cent to $1.09, followed by shares in Appen Limited (ASX:APX) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Adelaide Brighton (ASX:ABC), dropping 3.6 per cent to $4.38, followed by shares in Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX:SAR) and Credit Corp Group (ASX:CCP).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,289 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 2.2 per cent to US$88.69
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 1.2 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.11 US cents.