Miners drag, but ASX ducks Brexit drama

Alex Druce
(Australian Associated Press)


Australian shares have largely avoided fresh Brexit vote drama to close the day higher, though mining shares weighed on the local market.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 20.6 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 5,835.2 at 1615 AEDT on Wednesday, with the gains for the financial sector offset by falls in the large mining stocks.

The broader All Ordinaries was 21.9 points, or 0.37 per cent, higher at 5,893.7.

Wall Street closed higher after Chinese authorities indicated they will launch an economic stimulus package to help it through its current rough patch, but those gains were handed back after British MPs rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal by 432 votes to 202, adding more uncertainty about the UK’s exit from the European Union.

CMC chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the turmoil had no real influence here in Australia.

“I think the markets were very well aware of it, and anyone looking for a poor result on the vote would have been handed a loss,” he said.

“If there is a fractious break up in the future we could see it hurt global growth but for now there was little impact.”

The Australian market’s best performers on Wednesday were the info techs, followed by telcos and consumer staples, while the big miners weighed on the market.

Mr McCarthy said resources stocks appeared to have already squeezed the juice out of yesterday’s positive Chinese stimulus news.

“(Miners) had a good run yesterday here because we had time to react to the positive Chinese data,” he said.

“Elsewhere you saw (stocks) rise overnight but that positive impulse we already absorbed yesterday and obviously hasn’t carried through.”

BHP shares were down 0.39 per cent to $32.93, and Rio Tinto dropped 0.45 per cent to $79.64.

South32 was 2.06 per cent lower at $3.33, Fortescue Metals also slipped 1.76 per cent to $4.47 and Bluescope Steel was 0.75 per cent lower at $11.88.

Gold miners Newcrest, Northern Star and Evolution each suffered percentage-plus losses on subdued precious metal prices.

Language tech company Appen Limited jumped 4.42 per cent to $14.88, with Wisetech Global climbing by 3.46 per cent to $19.74 to continue the tech sector’s strong start to 2019.

Afterpay Touch rose 2.58 per cent to $13.92, while Altium was up 1.07 per cent to $23.66.

For the financials, Insurer QBE rose 1.78 per cent to $10.84, IAG was up 0.98 per cent to $7.18, Medibank Private was 2.32 per cent higher to $2.65, and Suncorp was up 2.2 per cent to $12.55.

The big banks edged higher, with Macquarie Group up 0.89 per cent to $116.00, outpacing NAB, Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank.

Most listed retailers had a positive day, with a 2.17 per cent rise to $6.59 for Lovisa Holdings, while Rebel Sport owner Super Retail Group was up 2.0 per cent to $6.63, Smiggle parent Premier Investments climbed 2.56 per cent to $14.40, and Wesfarmers was up 0.65 per cent to $32.29.

Nick Scali dropped 0.6 per cent after spending most of the day out in front, while Athlete’s Foot owner Accent Group closed 0.6 per cent lower.

A2 Milk lifted consumer staples, rising 1.87 per cent to $11.42, alongside supermarket Coles, which gained 1.02 per cent to $11.88.

Healthcare stocks were up on a 2.35 per cent rise for Sonic Health to $22.25, as well as a 1.13 per cent gain for ResMed to $16.05.

Sector benchmark CSL dragged with a 0.31 per cent loss to $197.29.

Caltex shares boosted the energy sector, up 0.69 per cent to $26.45, with Santos gaining 1.36 per cent to $5.98.

Oil Search fell 0.26 per cent to $7.60.

The Aussie dollar is trading at 71.98 US cents, down from 72.14 US cents on Tuesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 20.6 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 5,835.2.

* The All Ordinaries was up 21.9 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 5,893.7.

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 23 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 5,777.0


One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.98 US cents, from 72.14 on Tuesday

* 78.09 Japanese yen, from 78.42

* 63.09 euro cents, from 62.85

* 55.98 British pence, from 55.90

* 105.59 NZ cents, from 105.47


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1,289.88 per fine ounce, from $US1,290.52 on Tuesday.


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