The Aussie market is tracking higher in the first two hours of trade. The ASX has gained 54 points or 0.8 per cent to 6819. The SPI is suggesting a rise of 53 points. All sectors are in the up today and across the week except utilities and materials are also slightly lower. The gains come on the back of a fourth consecutive positive session on Wall Street, some upbeat company news, and a strong start to the Aussie earnings season. On that note, Newscorp is the top performer after posting solid results. Oil companies are also rising following upwards moves in the oil price. Santos is up over 2 per cent while Woodside is up 1.7 per cent.
Local economic news
Retail sales volumes rose 2.5 per cent in the December quarter 2020, seasonally adjusted following a 6.5 per cent rise in the September quarter 2020. Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys says, "the quarterly rise was driven by Victoria (12.8 per cent), as volumes recovered following COVID-19 restrictions from August to October. Without the Victorian rise, seasonally adjusted volumes would have fallen in the December quarter 2020."
Citi has downgraded Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) to sell from neutral. The investment bank says Macquarie Group remains an attractive story, offering longer term structural opportunities however the rising A$ and a recent lack of commodity price volatility leave expectations looking stretched. Shares in Macquarie are 0.2 per cent higher at $134.93
The Queensland Government will provide $147 million in funding to Genex Power for the construction of a new transmission line to support the kidston pumped storage hydro project. The infrastructure will facilitate the connection of the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project to the National Electricity Market. Shares in Genex (ASX:GNX) are 5.6 per cent higher at $0.29 cents.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is consumer discretionary gaining 1.6 per cent while the sector trailing behind is utilities dropping 0.6 per cent. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Newscorp (ASX:NWS) rising 12.5 per cent to $28.24, followed by shares in Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK) and Magellan (ASX:MFG) The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Janus Henderson Group (ASX:JHG) dropping 3.8 per cent to $40.99, followed by shares in CSR (ASX:CSR) and South32 (ASX:S32).
Gold is trading at US$1,794 an ounce.
Iron ore is 3.5 per cent higher at $158.03
Futures are suggesting a rise of 2.6 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 76.00 US.