Share market edges higher, $A gets a boost

Christian Edwards
(Australian Associated Press)

The share market has edged higher as the property sector was boosted by the $33 billion takeover of Westfield, and the consumer staples sector also rose.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was up 0.14 per cent at 6,021.8 points at 1630 AEDT, after a session in which the index moved within a narrow range.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said investors appeared uncertain where to turn outside of property trusts, following news of the biggest ever takeover of an Australian company.

The release of major economic news in the coming 24 hours also played a role, he said.

“It was the property trust sector that strongly led the market gains, as investors circled the wagons ahead of key upcoming events including the US Fed decision on interest rates, US CPI data and industrial production figures due out of China,” Mr McCarthy said.

Shares in Westfield jumped 13.7 per cent to $9.66 after the company agreed on Tuesday to a takeover from Europe’s biggest property giant that values its securities at $10.01.

While Scentre Group, which owns Westfield’s Australian and New Zealand centres, is not involved in the takeover, its shares gained 1.6 per cent to $4.42.

“When a major player like Westfield cashes in its chips, it’s a nervous signpost for the retail space,” Mr McCarthy said.

“While there’s expectations that some $22 billion could flow back into investors hands, the overall impact on sentiment might be negative.”

The retail sector was mixed, with JB Hi-Fi and Premier Investments posting small gains, and Harvey Norman and Super Retail Group modestly weaker.

The supermarket giants rose, with Coles owner Wesfarmers gaining 0.9 per cent to $44.18 and Woolworths adding 0.5 per cent to $27.05.

The market’s biggest stocks were relatively steady.

ANZ was the weakest of the big four banks, dropping 0.5 per cent to $28.67, while its rivals posted very modest falls.

Rio Tinto dropped 0.2 per cent to $70.14 and BHP Billiton added 0.1 per cent to $27.69.

The Australian dollar is stronger due to improved sentiment in some metals markets, and a fall for the US dollar after the Democrats won the Alabama Senate race, which could have implications for the passage of US President Donald Trump’s US tax reforms through Congress.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 8.6 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 6,021.8 points at 1630 AEDT.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 10 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 6,103.1 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up nine points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6,027 points.

* National turnover was 3.4 billion securities traded worth $6.9 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 75.75 US cents, from 75.36 US cents on Tuesday

* 85.84 Japanese yen, from 85.50 yen

* 64.43 euro cents, from 64.01 euro cents

* 56.83 British pence, from 56.46 pence

* 109.06 NZ cents, from 108.73 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,243.95 per fine ounce, from $US1,244.94 per fine ounce on Tuesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9037pct, from 1.8846pct on Tuesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.4913pct, from 2.4857pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.455 (implying a yield of 2.545pct), from 97.46 (2.54pct) on Tuesday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.99 (2.01pct), from 98.01 (1.99pct).

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

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