Australian shares move higher, hit two-month high

Derek Rose |

The local share market has hit a two-month intraday high and is on track for its 12th winning session out of the last 14 as the fallout from several bank collapses globally receded further into the rear window.

At noon AEST on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 22.5 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 7,384.1, its highest level since February 17. The broader All Ordinaries was up 20.2 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 7,580.6.

“With no additional crisis news emerging, bank deposits stabilising and Fed emergency lending no longer expanding, fears of an escalating banking crisis have abated,” Barclays analysts wrote in a note.

Eight out of the ASX’s 11 sector sectors were higher at midday, with mining down 0.7 per cent, consumer staples down marginally and energy basically flat.

Tech was the biggest gainer, climbing 1.3 per cent as Wisetech Global rose 2.3 per cent and Xero added 1.1 per cent.

Property was up 1.1 per cent with warehouse owner Goodman Group climbing 1.2 per cent and Westfield operator Scentre Group climbing 1.8 per cent.

However, the heavyweight mining sector was dragging on the market.

BHP had fallen 1.0 per cent, Fortescue was down 0.8 per cent and Rio TInto retreated 0.5 per cent.

Goldminers were also down even as the price of the precious metal hovered just over $US2,000 an ounce.

Newcrest had dipped 2.4 per cent, Northern Star was down by 3.0 per cent and Regis Resources had slumped 11.2 per cent after announcing lower-than-expected production in the March quarter.

But lithium miners were higher, with Piedmont climbing five per cent and Lake Resources jumping 12.5 per cent after announcing progress at its Kachi lithium project in Argentina.

The big banks were mostly up, with ANZ climbing 1.0 per cent, NAB up 0.9 per cent and CBA rising 0.6 per cent. Westpac was the exception, flat at $22.25.

EML Payments is up 14.8 per cent to 66c after the troubled prepaid card company announced new leadership and a strategic review. Kevin Murphy will be interim CEO, replacing Emma Shand, who resigned on Monday “given the change in operational priorities.”

The Brisbane-based company has appointed Barrenjoey to consider all options to maximise shareholder value, including selling off all or parts of the business.

In small caps, Tigers Realm Coal had dropped 20 per cent to 1c after giving an update on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had affected its business, which involves the mining of Russian coal which is then sold to markets in Asia.  

At its request the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had undertaken a review of Tiger’s business and advised its operations likely violated Australian sanctions. Tigers is considering applying for an exemption. Its other options include seeking judicial reflief or restructuring the company.

The Australian dollar was buying 67.10 US cents, down from 67.76 US cents at Friday’s ASX close.