Aust shares gain again, flirting with new all-time high

Derek Rose |

Megaport, City Chic Collective and Nickel Industries were all up by double-digits at midday.
Megaport, City Chic Collective and Nickel Industries were all up by double-digits at midday.

For the second time this month, the local share market has come achingly close to hitting a new all-time high.

At midday AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 46.3 points, or 0.62 per cent, to 7,625.1. 

At 11.30am, it had been as high as 7,630.5 – just over two points away from breaking its all-time intraday record of 7,632.8, set 13 August 2021.

The ASX200 also came within a whisper of eclipsing that mark on January 2 – only to go into a tailspin the very next day, pulling back 2.3 per cent over the next four days.

Tuesday’s gains came after a strong session on Wall Street, where the S&P500 gained 0.8 per cent following a drop in bond yields ahead of this week’s two-day Fed meeting.

Domestically, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday that retail turnover plunged 2.7 per cent in December, as Black Friday sales pushed a good deal of discretionary spending into November. Consensus expectations had been for a 1.7 per cent drop.   

“The underlying trend in consumer spending remains weak, in particular for discretionary items,” said Sean Langcake, head of macroeconomic forecasting for Oxford Economics Australia.

Nine of the ASX’s 11 sectors were higher at midday, with financials flat and energy down 0.3 per cent. 

Tech was the biggest mover, climbing 1.5 per cent as Megaport soared 27.3 per cent to a 20-month high of $12.45 on a quarterly update.

The Brisbane-based IT services company said it had made $48.6 million in revenue for the December quarter, up five per cent from the three months prior, as it added new 39 customers and launched new partnerships.

In the heavyweight mining sector, Nickel Industries was also shining, rocketing 22.9 per cent to a two-month high of  73.75c after announcing it was hiking its dividend after record quarterly earnings of $US135.4 million ($204 million).

Elsewhere in the sector, Fortescue had climbed 1.6 per cent, BHP was up 0.8 per cent and Rio Tinto had advanced 0.9 per cent.

The Big Four banks were mixed, with CBA and NAB both up 0.2 per cent, while ANZ had dipped 0.2 per cent and Westpac was down 0.3 per cent.

Insurance companies – whose bottom lines tend to be adversely affected by lower interest rates – were well in the red, with IAG dropping 0.9 per cent, Suncorp falling 1.8 per cent and QBE rereating 2.1 per cent.

City Chic Collective had soared 21.8 per cent to 53c after the plus-sized woman’s apparel retailer confirmed a report in the Australian Financial Review it had been approached by several interested parties about a sale of its North American business. 

There was no guarantees the talks would proceed to a binding transaction, City Chic said.

 

AAP