Wall St rally propels Aus shares 1.13% higher at noon

Market Reports

by David Chau

The Australian share market is rallying at the moment, and tracking 1.13% higher around midday.

The local bourse followed very strong leads from Wall Street – in particular, the Dow Jones hit a new record high again – surging more than 300 points to finish past the 21,000 points mark this morning. US President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress on Wednesday lacked specific details about tax reform and de-regulation, but it had the effect of boosting investor sentiment.

The best performer in the local share market today is materials, while the worst performers Telcos haven’t even been able to put a dent in today’s rally.

The S&P/ASX 200 index has risen 66 points to 5,7705. On the futures market the SPI is up 74 points.

Local economic news

The Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released two new sets of economic data this morning.

The ABS revealed that the country’s surplus was $1.3 billion in January. This was lower than expected, as exports fell by 3%, while imports rose 4%.  In December, Australia’s surplus was at $3.3 billion.

The ABS also revealed that building approvals were rose 1.8% from December to January, which was more than expected.  Back in December, building approvals dropped 1.2% month-to-month.  However, taking a year-long perspective, in the twelve months between January 2016 and January 2017, building approvals have fallen 12% according to the latest ABS data.

Company news

Japanese company, Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd has extended its offer period for its recommended takeover offer for mining services group, Bradken Ltd (ASX:BKN). Hitachi’s offer period will now close at 7.00pm on Friday, 24 March. Hitachi is planning to meet a 50% minimum acceptance condition from Bradken shareholders who are interested in selling their shares. If Hitachi does not meet that 50% threshold, its offer will lapse and not proceed. Shares in Bradken are trading 0.15% higher at $3.23.

Quickstep Holdings (ASX:QHL), a company which manufactures advanced carbon fibre composites, has completed a $10 million capital expansion of its Aerospace Manufacturing facilities in Bankstown, NSW. The company says this takes its total investment at the Bankstown site to around $30 million, enhancing its production capacity, which may benefit some of its partners – which include the world’s largest Aerospace / Defence companies such as Airbus and Lockheed Martin. Shares in Quickstep are trading 4.76% higher at 11 cents.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Materials gaining 3 per cent to 10,124. Shares in Alumina (ASX:AWC) have risen 9.29 per cent, and are trading at $2.00. Shares in South32 (ASX:S32) and Independence Group (ASX:IGO) are also stronger.

The worst performing sector is Telcos, falling 1.4 per cent to 1,616. Shares in Telstra (ASX:TLS) have fallen 1.72 per cent, and are trading at $4.56. Shares in Vocus Communications (ASX:VOC) are lower, but Spark New Zealand (ASX:SPK) have actually risen.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,248 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 76.58 US cents.