The ASX hit an all-time high, shrugging off a slump in US index futures after Donald Trump signed off on legislation supporting human rights in Hong Kong.
The benchmark Australian index, the ASX 200, marched four points beyond the July all-time intraday peak of 6875.5 before paring its gain to 25 points or per 0.4 cent at 6875. The rally kept the index on track for a fifth straight advance, its longest winning run in a month.
US index futures skidded after the president defied Chinese warnings of countermeasures if he signed into law two bills supporting protestors in Hong Kong. Although expected, Trump’s decision to proceed was seen as a potential spanner in trade negotiations. S&P 500 index futures slipped eight points or 0.3 per cent ahead of tonight’s Thanksgiving market holiday.
Telstra starred for a second day on the prospect of a better deal from NBN Co. The telecom’s shares rose 3.1 per cent to a three-month high after NBN Co announced it would lower costs to wholesalers and increase capacity.
The hunt for yield as the outlook for rates deteriorates fuelled a fresh round of records in bond proxies. Health giants Cochlear and CSL rose 0.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively. Supermarket Woolworths gained 0.1 per cent. Rival Coles hit a new peak before fading to a loss of 0.1 per cent. These companies are seen as providing reliable returns in the form of dividends while returns on bank deposits and bonds are negligible. Westpac yesterday predicted the RBA will cut the cash rate twice more next year, then resort to quantitative easing to try to spark the economy.
Tech stocks took their cues from a strong night on the Nasdaq. Afterpay and Nearmap put on 1.6 per cent, and Nextdc 1.3 per cent.
Resource stocks rose for a fifth session. BHP rallied 0.6 per cent to a two-month high, Rio Tinto 0.8 per cent to its strongest level since early August. Miner Allegiance Coal jumped 9.1 per cent after releasing a positive feasibility study into its New Elk coking coal project in Colorado.
The financial sector was flat as gains in CBA and NAB were offset by declines in Westpac and ANZ.
The outlook for next week’s national GDP update dimmed after private sector capital expenditure data showed business investment declined over the first three months of the financial year. Private sector capex fell a seasonally-adjusted 0.2 per cent.
What’s hot today and what’s not:
Hot today: smart building materials company ClearVue hit a three-month high after its window products cleared another hurdle in the US. The company’s PV-IGU offering obtained certification from independent product safety tester UL following 12 months of tests. The certification clears the way for ClearVue to sell into America its high-tech windows containing photovoltaic cells to generate renewable energy. Shares were lately up 12.1 per cent.
Not today: among the more peculiar Australian share market phenomena are periodic runs in the shares of the former operator of a mine that has not produced an ounce of copper or gold in 30 years. Bougainville Copper quintupled in value over the last week from 10 cents to 50 cents ahead of an independence referendum in the Bougainville district of PNG. The referendum on December 7 has raised hopes that the giant Panguna mine run by Bougainville Copper before closure during the civil war in 1989 may finally re-open. Shares tumbled for a second day today, lately down 20 per cent to 28.5 cents.
Asian markets hit reverse. China’s Shanghai Composite sank 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.5 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.1 per cent.
Oil turned lower with US index futures. Brent crude futures dropped 26 cents or 0.3 per cent this morning to $US63.90 a barrel. Gold rose $2.60 or 0.2 per cent to $US1,456 an ounce.
On currency markets, the dollar eased a tenth of a cent to 67.66 US cents.