Mining and tech stocks helped the ASX edge higher for a second day on holiday-reduced volumes.
The ASX 200 advanced 15 points or 0.2 per cent to 6809 by mid-session following another round of record closes on Wall Street. The S&P 500 rose 0.51 per cent to an all-time closing high overnight and the Nasdaq charged 0.78 per cent to close above 9,000 for the first time.
Australia has trailled US gains for more than a week after unexpectedly strong employment data triggered a dramatic revision of rates expectations for next year, boosting the dollar and capping exporters. Overnight, the dollar hit a five-month high, lately holding broadly steady at 69.5 US cents.
Market participation is weak at this time of year, with Tuesday’s session delivering less than a quarter of the number of trades last Friday. Company news slows to a trickle, with most corporate back offices running skeleton staffs for the holidays.
Resource stocks were well supported following multi-month highs in gold and crude overnight. Gold hit an eight-week peak overnight and this morning rose 90 cents or less than 0.1 per cent to $US,1515.30 an ounce. Brent crude futures extended a three-month high, rising 14 cents or 0.2 per cent to $US68.06 a barrel.
Gold miner Resolute Mining rallied 5.7 per cent, graphite miner Syrah Resources 3.6 per cent and rare earths miner Lynas 3.9 per cent. Among the majors, BHP tacked on 1 per cent, Rio Tinto 0.6 per cent, Fortescue 0.6 per cent and South32 1.5 per cent.
Buy-now-pay-later leader Afterpay was the technology standout, rising 4.6 per cent following reports of a late surge in online shopping in the US. Appen added 2.2 per cent, Nearmap 2.4 per cent and Bravura Solutions 2.3 per cent.
Westpac was the best of the big four banks, rising 0.2 per cent. CBA climbed 0.1 per cent, while ANZ and NAB both eased less than 0.1 per cent.
Utilities was the worst of the sectors as Mercury NZ fell 3 per cent, AusNet 1.7 per cent and AGL Energy 0.8 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.2 per cent and Hong
Kong’s Hang Seng 0.8 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei was unchanged. S&P 500 index futures
were recently ahead four points or 0.1 per cent.
What’s hot today and what’s not:
Hot today: biotech Zoono Group (ZNO) has been one of 2019’s big success stories at the speculative end of the market. The company’s market capitalisation has increased by 500 per cent since October as the company’s microbial productions gained traction. The rally accelerated after trials demonstrated the company’s products have an application against African swine fever, which has devastated the Chinese pork industry. ZNO shares surged 17.3 per cent today to their highest level since the company was bought out by Goldsearch.
Not today: Panoramic Resources (PAN) tanked this morning after Independence Group (IGO) gave up its pursuit of its rival. Independence announced it would let lapse an off-market takeover offer announced on November 4. IGO CEO Peter Bradford said the acquisition no longer offered compelling value after PAN cut its production guidance and tapped the market for funding. PAN shares slumped 9 cents or 22.2 per cent to 31.5 cents. IGO shares rose 3.1 per cent.