A choppy morning saw Aussie shares recoup some of yesterday’s losses despite jitters on other markets as investors remained wary of U.S.-China trade talks.
The ASX 200 traded both sides of break-even before rising to a mid-session gain of 21 points or 0.3 per cent at 6291. Advances in several of the banks and two so-called “mum and dad stocks” outweighed declines in miners.
Telstra jumped 2.6 per cent after the competition watchdog knocked back a merger proposal between Vodafone Australia and TPG Telecom. Qantas rose 3.3 per cent after reporting a 2.3 per cent increase in third-quarter revenue to $4.4 billion. The airline also announced that it will sell its domestic terminal in Melbourne to Melbourne Airport for $355 million.
Explosives maker Orica was the morning’s other standout among the majors, rising 4.7 per cent after comfortably beating half-year profit expectations.
Not all the morning’s company earning news was as well received. Cement maker Adelaide Brighton sagged 8.1 per cent after warning it expects its net profit for the calendar year to be 10-15 per cent weaker than last year’s $190 million. And there was more pain for shareholders in Graincorp as the company dropped another 3.6 per cent after announcing a net half-year loss after tax of $59 million due to drought conditions across many farming regions.
Turning to the banks, CBA and NAB both rose 0.4 per cent and ANZ 0.1 per cent. Westpac dropped 0.2 per cent.
The miners were held back by overnight weakness on metals markets. BHP eased 0.8 per cent and Rio Tinto 0.6 per cent.
At the smaller end of the market, yesterday’s star performer, Orthocell, hit a three-and-a-half-year peak at 78 cents before easing to a mid-session gain of four cents or 8.6 per cent at 57 cents. The health minnow rocketed 377 per cent yesterday after announcing early signs of success in a trial of a treatment for nerve damage.
Today’s market rally followed a mixed session on Wall Street and defied signs of weakness in U.S. stock futures this morning after Donald Trump accused China of “breaking” the draft trade deal the two nations have been negotiating. Addressing a rally in Florida, President Trump said, “They broke the deal. They can’t do that, so they’ll be paying.” He was referring to a U.S. threat to raise tariffs on Chinese imports as soon as tomorrow. That sent S&P 500 futures down 18 points or 0.6 per cent and fuelled falls in Asia, where China’s Shanghai Composite shed 1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.6 percent and Japan’s Nikkei 1.2 per cent.
Oil tilted lower. Texas crude futures eased 58 cents or 0.9 per cent this morning to $US61.54 a barrel. Gold futures were steady at $US1,281.50 an ounce.
On currency markets, the dollar was buying 69.7 US cents.
Looking ahead, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. for trade talks tonight. And here tomorrow, the RBA is due to release its quarterly monetary policy statement, which will provide insight into the outlook for interest rates.