ASX hits 3-month high: Aus shares 0.4% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market is trading higher for the fifth straight session, starting with the week in the black with most sectors charging higher today. The local bourse is now making a profit of 6.3 per cent this year, hit a new three month high.

From the get go-we had positive leads to follow, after US equities and the Dow, in particular, had its best week since August, on the back of positive China and US trade talks.

We opened higher and have maintained that level, with the S&P/ASX 200 index is 24 points higher or 0.4 per cent at 5,903 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 26 points higher.

Broker upgrades/downgrades

Citi says Rio Tinto’s (ASX:RIO) December quarter production was largely in line with its estimates, except that Copper volumes were at the upper end of its guidance. Citi has maintained the stock as a buy with a price target of $89.00, on the back of upside in commodity prices, particularly iron ore, plus the upside on potential asset sale proceeds. It shares are trading 0.1 per cent higher at noon. 

Local economic news

Lending for home loans fell 1 per cent in November 2018, according to the ABS (in trend terms), while the seasonally adjusted figure was worse, with a fall of 1.4 per cent. It comes, after HIA reported new home sales dropped to their lowest level since 2012, with their rate dropping 6.7 per cent in December, following the prior month’s 3.6 per cent rise.

Company news

Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN) lost one of its company secretaries after Anna Rachel Pritchard resigned. No replacement has been made. Shares in Australia’s largest airline are trading 0.2 per cent lower at $6.13 at noon, year-on-year its shares are trading 17 per cent higher.

Australian waste management company, Bingo (ASX:BIN) also announced the resignation of joint company secretary, Ronald Chio, with Rozanna Lee remaining on board. Bingo says, Ronald’s replacement will be made in due course. It’s trading 1.4 per cent higher at noon at $2.20

Satellite company, Sky And Space Global (ASX:SAS) has landed another reseller agreement with a Spanish telco, Global Telesat SL. And Sky And Space Global also secured a trial service agreement with a leading provider of satellite services in the Brazilian market, Telespazio Brasil S/A. Shares in Sky And Space Global (ASX:SAS) are trading 7.4 per cent higher at $0.06 at noon.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Consumer Discretionary adding 1.5 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Utilities, shedding 0.3 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM), rising 5.7 per cent to $7.26, followed by shares in Pact Group Holdings Ltd (ASX:PGH) and Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL) after winning a $171 million contract.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Sims Metal Management Limited (ASX:SGM), dropping 14.9 per cent to $9.32 after it announced a challenging first half and that it expected first half FY19 underlying EBIT of about $110 million. Shares in Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX:SAR) and St Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) followed.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,283 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 1.5 per cent to US$75.70
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.9 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.63 US cents.