Light trade keeps Australian shares flat

Simone Ziaziaris
(Australian Associated Press)

The Australian share market has closed flat after its first day of post-Christmas trade, despite strength in mining and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was unmoved at 6,069.9 points at 1630 AEDT on Wednesday, with what investor confidence there was centred around higher oil and commodity prices.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian expects trading to remain quiet over the next week, with little economic news locally or internationally to sway the market.

“Volumes are going to substantially dry up as most people will take advantage of the holidays and do things that are a bit more enjoyable rather than looking at their screens all day,” he said.

“I wouldn’t expect a huge amount in the next week or two but even if volumes remain week, December tends to be a pretty good month for the markets.”

The market is in its third month of straight gains and remains well above the 6,000-point mark, Mr Daghlian added.

“So the markets are still certainly remaining quite optimistic overall.”

Energy stocks led the gains on Wednesday after oil prices rose following news of an explosion on a Libyan crude pipeline as well as voluntary OPEC-led supply cuts.

Shares in Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Santos were trading between 0.6 per cent and 1.5 per cent higher.

Strength in iron ore and gold prices helped support the mining sector, with BHP Billiton up 0.9 per cent at $29.35, Rio Tinto 0.5 per cent stronger at $74.62 and gold miners Newcrest and Evolution both lifting.

Retailers gained momentum on expectation of strong Boxing Day sales, with Kogan one of the best performers, soaring 6.8 per cent to $6.62.

Investors also took a liking to Retail Food Group shares, which rebounded more than nine per cent to $2.51 after the embattled company said it had extended the maturity of debt facilities for $150 million until 2020.

But banking stocks gave up early gains, with ANZ, Commonwealth and National Australia Bank all trading lower, weighing on the overall index.

Westpac bucked the trend and was up 0.4 per cent to $31.39.

Meanwhile, strength across commodities has helped drive the Australian dollar higher against a slightly weaker US dollar.

The local currency was trading at 77.46 US cents at 1630 AEDT on Wednesday, from 77.14 on Friday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was flat at 6,069.9 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 2.4 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 6,169.7 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down five points, or 0.08 per cent, at 6,021 points

* National turnover was 2.6 billion securities traded worth $2.7 billion


One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.45 US cents, from 77.14 on Friday

* 87.67 Japanese yen, from 87.44 yen

* 65.20 euro cents, from 65.13 euro cents

* 57.88 British pence, from 57.67 pence

* 109.84 NZ cents, from 109.95 cents


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,282.31 per fine ounce, from $US1,274.54 per fine ounce on Friday.


* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0788pct, from 2.0725pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6681pct, from 2.6874pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.473 (implying a yield of 2.527pct), from 97.255 (2.745 pct) on Friday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.955 (2.045pct), from 97.80 (2.20pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)


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