Lynas (ASX:LYC) defends High Court proceedings: Aus shares to open higher

Market Reports

by Katrina Bullock

Following strong leads from US and European markets, the Australian share market looks set to open higher. All three major US indices inked fresh record highs at the close on Friday, fuelled by tech stocks and robust retail sales data, which showed that US retail sales rose 0.3 per cent in December, in line with expectations. The new highs on Wall Street reflect the positive sentiment generated by the signing of the US-China phase one trade deal. In Europe, utility stocks touched their highest levels in over 10 years. This came as the German Government announced that it planned to compensate major power generation company, RWE, with around 2.6 billion euros ($2.9 billion) for costs related to the country's planned coal exit. On the commodities front, oil and gas stocks advanced as US crude inventories dropped, and the US-China phase one trade deal indicated a potential increase in the sale of American energy products to the Chinese.

Local economic news

Turning to Local economic news due out this week. On Wednesday we are expecting the Westpac Consumer Sentiment Index for the month of January. On Thursday the Australian Bureau of Statistics will publish employment data for the month of December. AND on Friday, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia will release the ‘Flash’ purchasing managers indexes.

Markets

Wall Street closed higher on Friday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.2 per cent higher at 29,348, the S&P 500 gained 0.4 per cent to 3330 and the NASDAQ climbed 0.3 per cent to 9389.

European markets closed higher: London’s FTSE added 0.9 per cent, Paris rose 1.02 per cent and Frankfurt added 0.7 per cent.

Asian markets closed higher: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.6 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite closed 0.1 per cent highers

Taking all of this into equation, the SPI futures are pointing to a 36-point rise. On Friday, the Australian share market closed 0.3 per cent higher at 7064.

Company news 

Rare-earths mining company, Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) are defending judicial review proceedings in the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. Three individuals initiated the proceedings which relate to the processes followed by the Government of Malaysia in reaching its decision last August to renew the company's operating licence for its rare earths processing plant. Environmental groups and local residents allege that the plant would expose local residents to dangerous chemicals including radioactive waste that could affect the health of those living nearby and the environment. The ASX listed company won't be the only ones defending the proceedings, which also name the Prime Minister of Malaysia, 27 other Ministers and Cabinet members, the Government of Malaysia, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board and Lynas Malaysia as respondents. Prior to this news, shares in Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) closed 2.1 per cent higher at $2.46 on Friday.

Ex-dividends

One company going ex-dividend today: Contrarian Value Fund (ASX:CVF) is paying a dividend of 0.46 cents fully franked.

Currencies

One Australian Dollar at 7:30 AM was buying 68.78 US cents, 52.97 Pence Sterling, 75.70 Yen and 62 Euro cents.

Commodities

Iron Ore futures suggest a 0.9 per cent rise.
Gold has added $9.80 to US$1560 an ounce.
Silver has gained $0.13 to US$18.07 an ounce.
Oil has lost $0.05 to US$58.58 a barrel.