Strong miners help lift ASX up at close

Greta Stonehouse
(Australian Associated Press)


The Australian share market has closed higher after a fluctuating trading session with the resources sector putting in a strong performance.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 12.5 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 5,886.7 at 1630 AEDT on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 11.6 points, or 0.2 per cent, lower at 5,951.1.

Investors have been cautious in light of ongoing trade negotiations with China, and as the US Federal Reserve’s policy committee has its first meeting of the year to decide on interest rates.

“This has certainly played on the minds of investors who are waiting to see and get a bit more clarity from both scenarios”, CommSec markets analyst James Tao said.

Both the US and China have until March to nut out an agreement before tariffs increase between the two countries.

“And that’s something everyone wants to avoid,” Mr Tao said.

While investors in the Australian market continued their “ball watching”, strong gains in the mining sector continued off the back of a spike in iron ore prices.

This comes amidst concerns of iron ore supply shortages following the deadly Minas Gerais mining disaster in Brazil.

Shares for mining giant BHP were up 2.55 per cent to $34.60, Rio Tinto up 4.51 per cent to $87.30, while Fortescue Metals rose 7.75 per cent to $5.42.

The Aussie dollar rallied on the news inflation rates had risen 0.5 per cent in the December quarter which was more than expected, buying 71.95 US Cents at the close.

While the Aussie dollar jumped about half a US cent following the data’s release, Mr Tao said the RBA would remain on the sidelines, unlikely to raise the cash rate any time soon.

Energy stocks made steady gains over the day after an overnight oil price rise.

Beach Energy was up 3.96 per cent to $1.70, Origin Energy rose 0.56 per cent to $7.17 and Santos climbed 1.45 per cent to $6.31.

Wins in the mining sector were largely offset by the heavyweight financials with all four banks lowered at the close.

Commonwealth Bank finished 0.15 per cent lower at $71.24, ANZ was down 0.39 per cent at $25.48, NAB closed down 0.04 per cent to $24.25 while Westpac finished 0.4 per cent lower at $25.19.

Elsewhere in the market Qantas shares dived down 5.09 per cent to $5.59 while Virgin stocks fell 2.7 per cent to 18 cents, after Air New Zealand reported a drop in bookings due to a dwindling tourism market.


*The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 12.5 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 5,886.7

*The All Ordinaries was up 11.6 points, or 0.2 per cent, lower at 5,951.1

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 10 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 5,827.0


One Australian dollar buys:

*71.95 US cents, from 71.65 US US on Tuesday

*78.66 Japanese yen, from 78.30

*62.90 euro cents, from 62.68

*54.96 British pence, from 54.50

*105.06 NZ cents, from 104.68


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1313.74 per fine ounce, from $US1303.93 on Tuesday.


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