Energy leading Australian shares higher at midday

Derek Rose |

The local share market is on track for its first day of gains this financial year.
The local share market is on track for its first day of gains this financial year.

The local share market was on track for its first day of gains in the new financial year at midday, boosted by dovish comments by US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell and better-than-expected retail sales data.

At lunchtime AEST on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 21.1 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 7,739.3, while the broader All Ordinaries had gained 24.7 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 7,984.4.

At a monetary policy conference in Sintra, Portugal, Mr Powell overnight sounded a touch more dovish than his more recent messaging, hailing the “quite a bit of progress” that the US had made to get inflation back to target.

Closer to home, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that retail sales rose 0.6 per cent in May, up from 0.1 per cent in April and better than the 0.3 per cent consensus forecasts.

“Retail turnover was boosted this month by watchful shoppers taking advantage of early end-of-financial year promotions and sales events,” said Robert Ewing, ABS head of business statistics.

“Retail businesses continue to rely on discounting and sales events to stimulate discretionary spending, following restrained spending in recent months.”

Six of the ASX’s 11 sectors were higher at midday and five were lower. Energy was the biggest mover for a second day, up 1.3 per cent with gains across the sector.

Woodside was up 0.9 per cent to an 11-week high of $29.40 as Brent crude hovered just under a two-month high of $US87 a barrel, with Santos adding 1.0 per cent and Beach Energy climbing 1.7 per cent.

Coal miners were up again after Anglo American confirmed its Grosvenor coal mine in Queensland would be closed for several months following a still-burning underground fire. 

Whitehaven Coal had gained 3.6 per cent to an 18-month high of $8.90, while Yancoal had risen two per cent and New Hope had added 1.5 per cent.

Uranium companies Deep Yellow, Paladin and Boss were also well in the green, each up between 4.5 and 5.2 per cent.

Elsewhere, in the heavyweight mining sector, BHP and Rio Tinto had both added 0.5 per cent while Fortescue had gained 0.6 per cent.

The Big Four banks were having a quiet day, with NAB the biggest mover, down 0.4 per cent. CBA had dipped 0.1 per cent, while ANZ was up 0.2 per cent and Westpac had edged 0.1 per cent higher.

Shares in Booktopia remained suspended as the struggling online bookseller entered voluntary administration. McGrathNicol Restructuring said they were exploring options to sell or recapitalise the business.

One Australian dollar was buying 66.74 US cents, from 66.45 US cents on Tuesday.