Outlook: ASX looks to lift into Christmas week

Market Reports

After a gain of 2.5 per cent on Friday the Australian share market looks to lift into the Christmas week. Traders continued to find optimism in the US Federal Reserve’s pledge to be patient on future rate rises. Higher commodity prices also supported traders with iron ore and oil prices bouncing from last week’s lows. In the week ahead trade is likely to be light with no major economic releases ahead of the Christmas break.
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street finished higher on Friday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2 per cent to close at 17,805, the S&P 500 gained 0.5 per cent to close at 2,071 and the Nasdaq gained 0.4 per cent to close at 4,765.
 
European markets ended mixed on Friday: London's FTSE 100 rallied 1.2 per cent, France's CAC 40 slipped 0.2 per cent and Germany's DAX fell 0.3 per cent.
 
Asian markets climbed at the end of last week: Japan’s Nikkei rose 2.4 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.3 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite rose 1.7 per cent.
 
The Australian share market posted its biggest one day gain on Friday since mid last year: The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 128 points on Friday, extending the weekly gain of 119 points to finish at 5,339. On the futures market the SPI is 17 points higher. 
 
Currencies 
 
The Australian dollar at 8:20am was buying $0.8149, 52.16 Pence Sterling, 97.48 Yen and 66.69 Euro cents.
 
Company news
 
Shares in Downer EDI Limited (ASX:DOW) jumped on Friday after scoring a massive $2 billion contract from India’s Adani Group. The engineering company will provide mining services for the Carmichael Coal Mine project in Central Queensland. CEO Grant Fenn says the contract will be one of the largest of its type signed in Australia in recent years. The mine is expected to become the largest thermal coal mine in Australia. Shares in Downer EDI jumped 7.08 per cent on Friday to end the week at $4.54 following the announcement.  
 
Virtus Health Limited (ASX:VRT) has opened its first Virtus-branded IVF clinic in Singapore as part of its ongoing international expansion. Australia’s biggest IVF provider describes the $3.5 million clinic, theatre and embryology laboratory as a ‘one stop centre’ based in the city centre. Virtus says the centre is one of the largest dedicated fertility centres in the region and first patients are expected to start treatment early next year. Shares in Virtus Health ended steady on Friday at $7.35 following the announcement.  
 
Ex-dividends

APA Group (ASX:APA) paying a 17.5 cent unfranked dividend

Commodities 

Gold has gained $1.20 to $US1,196 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. 
Silver has added $0.10 to $16.03 for March. 
Copper has firmed $0.03 to $2.88 a pound. 
Oil has lifted $2.77 to $US57.13 a barrel for January light crude in New York.