The Australian stock market has continued to push higher for the fifth trading day, gaining 0.3 per cent so far this session.
Over half of the sectors are making gains with Materials leading the rally. It was over 2 per cent higher earlier in the session and the small IT sector is following on its heels.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 17 points (or 0.3 per cent) up at 5847. On the futures market the SPI is 20 points higher.
Local economic news
Australia’s trade surplus hit $3.02 billion in September, smashing forecasts and consensus, it also beat the prior month’s surplus of $2.3 billion (seasonally adjusted).
BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) completed the sales of its onshore US oil and gas assets to BP for US$10.5 billion. At the same time it also announced plans to return US$10.4 billion to shareholders via on buy-back and special dividend. BHP says the shareholder return program, (which is what the heavyweight is calling is), will bring the total cash returned to shareholders to US$21 billion over the last two years. Year-on-year BHP shares are 25 per cent higher. At noon BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) shares are trading 4.22 per cent higher at $33.57 at noon.
National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) announced its headline cash earnings fell 14 per cent to $5.7 billion (in the year to 30 September) on the back of restructuring and customer remediation costs. This is 1 per cent below Citi’s estimates. Meantime, its revenue rose 6 per cent to $19 billion. ANZ declared a second-half dividend of 99 cents fully franked in line with Citi’s expectations. Citi has the stock as buy with a price target of $32.25. Shares in National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) are trading 1.27 per cent higher at $25.53 at noon.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is S&P/ASX Materials adding 1.6 per cent, while the worst performing sector isS&P/ASX Real Estate Investment Trusts shedding 1.3 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is AMP (ASX:AMP), rising 8.91 per cent to $2.69, followed by shares in NEXTDC (ASX:NXT) and Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Ausdrill (ASX:ASL), dropping 8.16 per cent to $1.57, followed by shares in Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) and Aveo Group (ASX:AOG).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,216 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 1.3 per cent to US$75.71 and its futures are flat.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.05 US cents.
Bitcoin has fallen 0.4 per cent to US$6,313, Ethereum fallen 0.05 per cent to US$197.51 and EOS has gained 1.12 per cent to US$5.20, in the last 24 hours.