Australian stock index hits highest level since April- up 25 points to 7,501.7 at close on 1/2/23

Australian stock index hits highest level since April- up 25 points to 7,501.7 at close on 1/2/23

Australian stock index hits highest level since April- up 25 points to 7,501.7 at close on 1/2/23

The local bourse has resumed its winning ways, finishing at a key level ahead of an all-important meeting by the world’s biggest central bank.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday closed up 25 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 7,501.7, its first close of more than 7,500 since April 22.

The broader All Ordinaries gained 23.6 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 7,709.7.

Anticipation was high ahead of the US Federal Reserve meeting, with the Fed seen as all but certain to deliver another interest rate hike of 25 basis points at 6am AEDT on Thursday.

Traders were set to be carefully watching the commentary from chairman Jerome Powell for word of a long-awaited “pivot” or pause in the Fed’s rate-hiking campaign later in the year.

“Clearly there’s anticipation or trepidation, shall we say, in markets ahead of this key event,” said City Index analyst Matt Simpson, calling the Fed meeting “the only thing that matters right now” for markets.

“For us, really it’s a case of what sentiment are we going to wake up to tomorrow morning,” he said.

A lot of traders are predicting a dovish message from the Fed, said Mr Simpson, who expects otherwise.

“My base case is that markets are a little bit disappointed tomorrow, in which case we could see a lower ASX because Wall Street will presumably be lower as well.”

It wouldn’t be a “massive downturn” though, Mr Simpson predicted, and perhaps just a fall to 7,400 before a rise to 7,600.

The ASX needs a break after its “epic rally” at the start of the year, he added.

On Wednesday, six of the ASX’s 11 official sectors closed higher, two were basically flat and three finished lower.

The interest rate-sensitive real estate sector was the biggest gainer, climbing 1.5 per cent as Stockland added 2.8 per cent to a nine-month high of $4.04 and Dexus rose 1.7 per cent to a four-month high of $8.29.

The heavyweight mining sector rose 0.7 per cent as the price of iron ore softened to $US129 a tonne, a day after rising above $US130 for the first time in seven months.

Rio Tinto gained 1.4 per cent to an 18-month high of $128.43, while BHP rose 0.3 per cent to $49.55 and Fortescue Metals climbed 0.4 per cent to $22.33.

In the financial sector, CBA edged 0.1 per cent higher to a fresh closing all-time high of $110.15.

Westpac fell 0.5 per cent to $23.60 after being up earlier in the day. NAB dipped 0.2 per cent to $31.73 and ANZ grew 0.8 per cent to $25.28.

Elsewhere, Flight Centre soared 8.1 per cent to a four-month high of $17.11 after the travel company’s shares resumed trading following a $180 million capital raising to fund its acquisition of UK-based luxury travel brand Scott Dunn.

Credit Corp gained 1.7 per cent to $22 after the debt collector announced it would expected earnings to recover strongly in the second half after its first-half profit dropped 30 per cent to $31.8 million due to rapid loan book growth.

Mesoblast gained 9.5 per cent to $1.04 after the biotech resubmitted to the US Food and Drug Administration its application for approval of its stem cell-based treatment for children suffering from graft-versus-host disease, a life-threatening complication that sometimes arises following bone marrow transplants.

The FDA unexpectedly failed to approve Mesoblast’s application in late 2020, requesting more data.

The Reject Shop gained 1.7 per cent to $4.17 as the discount chain announced the immediate departure of CEO Phil Bishop for undisclosed personal reasons. But acting CEO Clinton Cahn also announced same-store sales were up 2.4 per cent in the first half, with a “strong Christmas trading period” and positive momentum in January.

The Australian dollar was buying 70.69 US cents, from 70.29 US cents at Monday’s ASX close.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended Wednesday up 25 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 7,501.7.

* The broader All Ordinaries gained 23.6 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 7,709.7.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.69 US cents, from 70.29 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close

* 92.10 Japanese yen, from 91.56 Japanese yen

* 65.04 Euro cents, from 64.85 Euro cents

* 57.37 British pence, from 56.94 pence

* 109.72 NZ cents, from 108.94 NZ cents.

 

Derek Rose
(Australian Associated Press)



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