US government shutdown on track to end: Aus shares to open higher

Market Reports

by Kathy Skantzos

Wall Street finished in the green, and Australia’s futures are tracking higher, indicating a positive start to the trading session today.

All the major indices closed higher in the US, even though it was a rocky start to the session, and the Dow gained 142 points by the closing bell. Energy and telecommunications were the best-performing sectors. Netflix hit an all-time high, pushing the Nasdaq higher.

The US Senate has taken steps towards ending the government shutdown, by agreeing to keep the government open through to 8 February. The corporate earnings season continues to show stronger-than-expected results. Halliburton surpassed market expectations, surging the share price 3.7 per cent. Out of all the companies that have reported Q4 earnings so far, 85 per cent have beaten sales expectations and 68 per cent have beaten earnings estimates.

On the commodities front, oil is tracking higher, gold is steady, and iron ore has dropped a per cent.

US economic news

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index increased 0.27 points in December, indicating a pickup in economic growth. This is better than expected after a downwardly revised 0.11 in the previous month.


Wall Street closed in the green yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average /gained 0.6 per cent to close at 26,215, the S&P 500 added 0.8 per cent to close at 2,833 and the NASDAQ is 1.0 per cent higher to close at 7,408.

European markets closed mixed: London’s FTSE dropped 0.1 per cent, Paris gained 0.2 per cent and Frankfurt added 0.1 per cent.

Asian markets closed up: Tokyo’s Nikkei is flat adding just 0.03 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite also added 0.4 per cent.

And back home, the Australian share market closed lower yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 14 points down to finish at 5,992.

On the futures market the SPI is 32 points higher.

Company news

Service provider to the energy, mining and infrastructure industries AJ Lucas (ASX:ALJ) has entered into a farm-out agreement with a new partner, Angus Energy, along with its 47.4 per cent owned associate Cuadrilla Resources, for a share of an exploration licence which includes the Balcombe discovery. Under the agreement, which is subject to UK regulatory approval, Angus Energy will acquire 25 per cent interest in and assume operations of the Balcombe licence. Angus Energy is required to pay £4 million to be paid in two parts, with the first to be paid within 20 working days of 20 January 2018, and the second half is payable following consent from the oil and gas authority, with the first half refunded if the approval is not passed. The payments will be shared between AJ Lucas, which will get 25 per cent and Cuadrilla which will get 75 per cent. Shares in AJ Lucas (ASX:ALJ) closed/ last traded at $0.37.


Two companies are going ex-dividend today. Katana Capital (ASX:KAT) is paying 0.5 cents, 60 per cent franked, and 360 Capital Group (ASX:TGP) is paying 21.01 cents unfranked.


One Australian Dollar at 8:30AM was buying 80.15 US cents, 57.33 Pence Sterling, 88.94 Yen and 65.40 Euro cents.


Gold has gained $0.70 to $US1,334 an ounce.
Silver has lost $0.02 to $US17.02 an ounce.
Oil has gained $0.59 to $US63.90 a barrel.


The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower.

Bitcoin has fallen 9.6 per cent to $10,327.
Ethereum has fallen 9.2 per cent to $940.
Tether has fallen 1.2 per cent to $1.00.