Aust stocks inch higher in choppy session – ASX200 up 7.1 points to 7393.4 (18/01)

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The local share market has crept a little higher in a choppy session, closing nonetheless at its highest level in eight months.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished on Wednesday up 7.1 points to 7393.4, while the All Ordinaries gained 11.9 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7609.5.

The market gyrated a bit in the afternoon when the Bank of Japan left interest rates unchanged, confounding expectations it might loosen efforts to control the yield of its 10-year government bonds, a massive monetary stimulus program.

But ultimately the domestic market closed little changed for a second day in a row.

“It was a see-saw day,” said Australian Stock Report private client adviser Ben Le Brun, who is expecting a correction after the market’s 6.5 per cent rally in just 11 days.

“We began 2023 with a lot of optimism coming out of the gates, and that’s been great, but I’m willing to short-sell the optimism at this point,” he told AAP.

“We’re just very surprised by the amount of strength and resilience that we’re seeing. At some stage, you’ve got to pay the piper, and that’s a bit of a house view.

“A healthy correction-slash-pullback is very likely.”

Tech shares were the biggest gainers on Wednesday, collectively climbing 1.7 per cent as Xero added 2.5 per cent and Wisetech Global rose 1.7 per cent.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP edged 0.1 per cent lower to $49.08, while Fortescue Metals gained 0.8 per cent to $22.20 and Rio Tinto grew 1.1 per cent to $121.99.

The big banks were also mixed, with CBA up 0.2 per cent to $107.65, but Westpac and ANZ both down 0.5 per cent, to $24.79 and $23.82 respectively. NAB was perfectly flat at $31.67.

CSL gained 0.8 per cent to $292.83 after a rebound in the US dollar, in which the blood products giant earns most of its revenue.

Two other healthcare companies were up after achieving positive cash flows in the December quarter.

Telix Pharmaceuticals rose 8.6 per cent to a one-week high of $7.07 after the radiopharmaceutical company announced it had achieved a milestone $76.8 million in US sales of its prostate cancer imaging agent, Illuccix.

Volpara Health Technologies meanwhile rose 12.1 per cent to a eight-month high of 79c as the Kiwi breast cancer detection company said it had achieved its first ever cashflow-positive quarter after winning some big software contracts.

In the energy sector, Ampol gained 2.2 per cent to a nearly three-month high of $29.32 after the petrol station owner announced its Lytton refiner margin was still above historical levels in the December quarter.

Redbubble slid 11.4 per cent to a three-month low of 50.5c after the print-on-demand online marketplace said it had been forced to increase promotional activity during the holidays, impacting profit margins.

“Looking ahead, we expect consumer demand to remain challenging in the near term,” CEO Michael Ilczynski said, announcing the group would be reducing its workforce by 14 per cent in response and suspending a brand awareness project.

Qantas shares dipped in the afternoon as flight QF144 issued an emergency mayday call, but they closed up 0.5 per cent to $6.57 as the flight landed safely in Sydney.

Back in the mining sector, Nickel Industries was in a trading halt after announcing a $US471 million ($A676 million) capital raise to fund its acquisition of stakes in two nickel-producing assets from a Chinese company, Shanghai Decent Investment.

The Australian dollar was buying 69.99 US cents, from 69.66 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close. Earlier in the afternoon it briefly reached as high as 70.05 cents, close to a six-month high.

Looking forward, Mr Le Brun said investors will be focused on US earnings season, with reports due this week from Procter & Gamble and Netflix.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Wednesday up 7.1 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7393.4.

* The broader All Ordinaries gained 11.9 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7609.5.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.99 US cents, from 69.66 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close

* 91.52 Japanese yen, from 89.62 Japanese yen

* 64.90 Euro cents, from 64.24 Euro cents

* 56.95 British pence, from 57.13 pence

* 108.44 NZ cents, from 108.86 NZ cents.


Derek Rose
(Australian Associated Press)


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