Market climbs as US/China talks continue: ASX closes 1% higher

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

It has been a positive day of trade for the Australian share market. Trade talks in China are apparently making progress with President Donald Trump tweeting that negotiations are 'going very well'. Talks have extended into a third unscheduled day. Stock markets in the US and China rallied. Back home – with the sectors, healthcare improved throughout the day - utilities were trailing behind. At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 56 points up, or 1 per cent higher to finish at 5,778.

Futures market

Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 112 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a rise of 11 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing lift of 41 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 32 point rise tomorrow morning.

Economic news

The number of job vacancies in Australia increased by 1.7 per cent over the November 2018 quarter, according to new trend figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. But the rate of growth is slowing.

Over the year, job vacancies increased by 13.9 per cent, with private sector vacancies increasing by 14.1 per cent and public sector vacancies by 12.1 per cent.

Company news

Freedom Oil & Gas (ASX:FDM) has executed the first draw on its reserve-based lending facility with Wells Fargo Bank. Freedom has received the facility’s initial US$20 million US dollars availability, which was established in October 2018. The Wells Fargo borrowing base has a maximum capacity of US$500 million. The US$20 million will be used to fund further development activities on Freedom’s Eagle Ford Shale acreage in Texas. Shares in Freedom Oil & Gas (ASX:FDM) closed 3.3 per cent at $0.15.

Creso Pharma (ASX:CPH) is pleased to announce a binding Letter of Intent signed with Medleaf to partner on building a comprehensive cannabis business in New Zealand. They also plan to expand the range of CBD-based medicinal cannabis products available to New Zealand consumers. Shares in Creso Pharma (ASX:CPH) are 4.4 per cent lower at $0.54.

CIMIC Group's (ASX:CIM) mineral processing company, Sedgman has been awarded a contract at the Byerman Coal Mine in Central Queensland. The contract will generate $155 million for the company.

Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS) has exceeded its guidance and produced over 52.6 thousand ounces of gold in December 2018. The gold miner's cash and gold balance sheet is at a record level of $108.1 million at the end of the quarter.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was healthcare adding 2.1 per cent while the sector with the least gains was Utilities, 0.2 per cent up.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Magellan Financial Group (ASX:MFG), rising 10.3 per cent to close at $27.00. Shares in Bingo Industries (ASX:BIN) and Ausdrill (ASX:ASL) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Mayne Pharma Group (ASX:MYX), dropping 3.5 per cent to close at $0.83. Shares in Platinum Asset Management (ASX:PTM) and Ooh! Media (ASX:OML) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 2.4 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 1.6 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,283 an ounce.
Iron ore price gained 1.3 per cent to $74.46 and its futures are pointing to a rise of 0.4 per cent
Light crude is $1.27 up at $US49.79 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.55 US cents.