Aust shares edge higher at noon after 4 days of losses

Derek Rose |

The Australian share market has stabilised after four straight days of losses.
The Australian share market has stabilised after four straight days of losses.

The local share market was up slightly at midday, stabilising after four days of losses that left the bourse at an eight-week low.

At noon AEST on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 14 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 7,626.5, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 18.3 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 7,880.6.

Overnight Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said there had been an unexpected lack of progress recently on reducing inflation and it would likely take longer to lower interest rates.  

“If higher inflation does persist, we can maintain the current level of (monetary) restriction for as long as needed,” Mr Powell said. “At the same time, we have significant space to ease should the labour market unexpectedly weaken.”

The market’s implied pricing for a July 31 interest rate cut dropped to under 40 per cent following the Fed chairman’s remarks, from roughly 50-50 a week ago. 

Across the ditch, Statistics New Zealand reported that consumer prices rose 4.0 per cent in the year to March, in line with economists’ expectations and the lowest rate since June 2021.

Eight of the ASX’s 11 sectors were higher at midday, with health care flat and energy and mining slumping slightly after outperforming in recent days.

The utilities sector was the biggest gainer, up 1.7 per cent as AGL climbed 4.7 per cent.

In the mining sector, Evolution had soared 10.6 per cent to a two-year high of $4.28 after the goldminer announced production was up 15 per cent to 185,252 ounces in the March quarter.

“We continue to see increased cash generation with the cash balance up 13 per cent to $215 million and gearing improving to 28 per cent,” managing director and chief executive Lawrie Conway said.

With the yellow metal changing hands at $US2,383 an ounce, other goldminers were also doing well. Northern Star had gained 1.6 per cent and Gold Road Resources had advanced 2.8 per cent.

Elsewhere in the sector, BHP was down one per cent, while Fortescue and Rio Tinto had both dipped 0.2 per cent, Rio Tinto as it announced what chief executive Jakob Stausholm described as stable operating results in the first quarter.

The Big Four banks were mostly up, with ANZ climbing 0.9 per cent, Westpac adding 0.6 per cent, and CBA 0.2 per cent higher, while NAB had dipped 0.1 per cent.

Bank of Queensland was up 6.6 per cent to a one-week high of $6.185 after the regional lender announced it made $172 million in after-tax cash earnings in the half-year to February 29, down 33 per cent from a year ago. 

“This result has been impacted by continuing industry headwinds, with heightened competition for lending and deposits and higher funding costs,” said managing director and chief executive Patrick Allaway.

In industrials, Droneshield had soared 16.4 per cent to an all-time high of $10.8 after NATO approved a procurement framework that the counter-drone company said would likely result in significantly more orders.

Back in the mining sector, Renascor Resources had soared 32.5 per cent to a two-month high of 11 cents after the Australian government approved a $185 million loan to support the development of Renascour’s battery anode material manufacturing operation in South Australia.

The Australian dollar was buying  64.23 US cents, from 64.20 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close.