ASX skyrockets as economy shows sign of weakness

Jacob Shteyman |

The ASX climbed 1.65 per cent on Wednesday to finish near a three-month high.
The ASX climbed 1.65 per cent on Wednesday to finish near a three-month high.

The Australian share market has enjoyed its best day in more than a year as investors hope sluggish economic growth will discourage the Reserve Bank from further rate rises.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday climbed 116.8 points, or 1.65 per cent, to 7,178.4 – a near-three month high.

The broader All Ordinaries rose 116.9 points, or 1.61 per cent, to 7,386.7.

The local bourse was already in the green but added an extra 0.7 per cent after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported Australia’s gross domestic product grew at a sluggish 0.2 per cent for the September quarter shortly before noon.

Investors were buoyed by the softer-than-expected figures, with the rates market now pricing in a 50 per cent chance of a rate cut by June.

Commonwealth Bank head of Australian economics Gareth Aird said there was now a strong risk real GDP growth would come in negative in the December quarter.

“The RBA’s highly aggressive rate hiking cycle has clearly worked to slow demand growth in the economy,” he said.

Mr Aird predicts the first rate cut will come in September but the recent run of domestic and international data means risks are no longer skewed towards rate cuts starting at a later date.

The local market’s gains followed a mixed lead from Wall Street, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq rising 0.3 per cent amid a resurgence in Apple shares, while the Dow Jones and S&P500 were down.

All 11 official ASX sectors were in the green with rates-sensitive real estate stocks leading the way, up 3.1 per cent.

Westfield owner Scentre added 3.7 per cent while property developer Mirvac finished 4.5 per cent higher.

Of the heavyweight miners, BHP rose 1.5 per cent and Rio Tinto climbed 0.5 per cent after it valued its Guinean Simandou iron ore project at $9.4 billion.

Fortescue was basically flat after it announced the addition of Indian economist Usha Rao-Monari to the board.

Goldminer Evolution bucked the trend, plummeting 13 per cent to $3.60 after it completed a $525 million share placement to fund its acquisition of an 80 per cent stake in the Northparkes gold and copper mine in NSW.

The big banks all gained. NAB was up 1.7 per cent, ANZ grew 0.8 per cent and Westpac and CBA were both 1.3 per cent higher.

Pub and bottle shop owner Endeavour rose 2.4 per cent to $5.20 after the hospitality group said it would grow hotel sales by more than $150 million over the next five years.

Woodside Energy bounced back after sinking to its lowest level since May 2022 on Tuesday.

Australia’s largest oil and gas producer firmed 1.1 per cent after signing a 20-year agreement to sell 1.3 million tonnes of LNG per annum to energy company Mexico Pacific.

Perpetual jumped 6.3 per cent to $23.76 after the financial services group announced a strategic review into separating its corporate trust and wealth management businesses to create a more focused asset management business.

Magellan Financial surged 3.6 per cent after its total funds under management grew 2.6 per cent to $35.2 billion in November.

Insurers IAG and QBE traded 1.5 and 2.0 per cent higher respectively amid changes to their leadership teams.

IAG sacked top lawyer Peter Horton for falling short of the group’s employee code of ethics and conduct, while QBE welcomed Penny James – former boss of UK insurer Direct Line – to its board.

The Australian dollar was almost unchanged, buying 65.81 US cents from 65.82 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Wednesday up 116.8 points, or 1.65 per cent, at 7,178.4.

* The broader All Ordinaries climbed 116.9 points, or 1.61 per cent, to 7,386.7.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 65.81 US cents, from 65.82 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close

* 96.91 Japanese yen, from 96.85 Japanese yen

* 60.96 Euro cents, from 60.70 Euro cents

* 52.20 British pence, from 52.09 pence

* 106.75 NZ cents, from 107.00 NZ cents.

AAP