Home loans slip less than expected, WHC record Qtr: ASX 0.3% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market is continuing to live up to January’s bull trend and hit a new two month high (5,856 points) earlier in the session.

The local bourse rose at the open, pushed higher and is now maintaining momentum with most sectors in profit territory with Energy leading the rally, after the oil price is pushing up to a one month high.

Overnight in the US, we had positive Wall Street leads after Goldman Sachs shares hit a 10-year high on quarterly earnings, while the Bank of America charged up on its record quarterly profit. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.3 per cent or 18 points higher at 5,853. On the futures market the SPI is 11 points higher.

Broker calls 

Michael Hill (ASX:MHJ) has been upgraded from a sell to a neutral/hold by Citi, with the multinational bank giving a 12-month price target of $0.63, down from its prior target of $0.65. It comes after it posed a Christmas boost to its sales, after they rose 1.3 per cent rise in November and December.

Asset manager, Janus Henderson (ASX:JHG) is trading over 3.1 per cent higher today, despite Citi cutting its FY18, FY19 and FY20 earnings forecasts.

Local economic news

New Home Loans fell 0.9 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in November, beating the 1.5 per cent fall expected. It comes after loans rose in October.

Company news

Coal mining major, Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) reported a record report card for the December quarter with the producer also saying its on track to meet full-year production guidance of 22.0Mt to 23Mt of saleable coal. It hit record sales in December and quarterly ROM coal production of 7.4 Mt (Megatones). Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) shares are trading 4.6 per cent higher at $4.75 at noon.

Lithium play, Orocobre (ASX:ORE) reported production soared 65 per cent quarter on quarter (to 3,782 tonnes of lithium carbonate) in the December quarter and also achieved its second-best quarter of production at Olaroz. It comes after it also achieved a 41 per cent rise in sales in December. Shares in Orocobre (ASX:ORE) are trading 0.2 per cent lower at $3.25 at noon.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Energy adding 0.9 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Utilities, shedding 1 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), rising 4.6 per cent to $4.75, followed by shares in Alumina Limited (ASX:AWC) are following after reporting Alcoa increased its EBIT forecast on the back higher production, while Afterpay Touch Group (ASX:APT) follows.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Western Areas (ASX:WSA), dropping per 3.2 cent to $2.11, followed by shares in Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) and AGL Energy (ASX:AGL).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,294 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 0.7 per cent US$74.31
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.1 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.54 US cents.

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