Australia Markets closed

ASX snaps losing streak ahead of jobs data

Derek Rose
The futures market is pointing to a fall for the ASX at the start of trade

The Australian share market has bounced back from a morning dip to finish higher, ending a three-day losing streak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 32.3 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,673.3 points at 1615 AEST on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 28.2 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 6,764.

"We're looking good," said Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston.

"It's a good day to be an Australian equity," he said, as there was a "buy-everything mentality" despite losses in the energy and property sectors.

Mr Weston said following a strong six months during which the market gained 21 per cent from December 24 to June 19, it now seemed like the ASX was in a holding pattern, waiting for something to happen.

"There's a lack of impetus to really push prices higher or lower," he said.

Shares are trading at a pricey 16.3 times their earnings, but with low volatility and low bond yields that expensive valuation might be justified, Mr Weston said.

A key indicator could come on Thursday, with the release of Australian labour force figures for June that could spur the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates for a third time this year if unemployment has risen, Mr Weston said.

For the ASX on Wednesday, meanwhile, consumer staples shares were the biggest winners, gaining 1.1 per cent as a whole, the only sector up more than a percentage point.

Coles was up 1.1 per cent to $14.01, Woolworths up 0.7 per cetn to $34.30 and a2 Milk up 2.7 per cent to $16.04.

BHP gained 1.4 per cent to $41.74 after the mining giant released a update saying quarterly production was up 11 per cent.

Fortescue Metals was down 2.1 per cent to $8.80 while BlueScope Steel gained 4.3 per cent to $12.60 after the price of iron ore dipped.

Elders was the biggest gainer among the ASX200, up 15 per cent to $7.05, after the agribusiness resumed trading for the first time since Monday.

Its shares had been suspended after it announced it would buy wholesale supplier Australian Independent Rural Retailers for $187 million and raise $137 million to do so.

Austal was the second-biggest gainer, up 11.2 per cent to an all-time high of $3.96, after the shipbuilder announced investments in its Australiasian shipyards had paid off with a glut of commercial ferry contracts.

Shares in energy companies were down after the price of crude dropped by four per cent on signs the US was taking a softer tone on Iran, with Oil Search down 3.1 per cent to $6.96, Woodside Petroleum down 0.3 per cent to $34.95 and Santos down 0.7 per cent to $7.04.

The big banks were all up, with Commonwealth gaining 0.6 per cent to $81.32, ANZ up 0.7 per cent to $27.19, NAB up 0.4 per cetn to $26.94 and Westpac up 0.1 per cent to $27.68.

The Aussie dollar is buying 70.06 US cents, from 70.31 US cents on Tuesday.

The Aussie is at its highest level against the British pound since mid-December, buying 56.57 pence, after the UK currency sunk against its peers on fears of a no-deal Brexit.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 32.3 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,673.3 points at 1630 AEST on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 28.2 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 6,764.

* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up 24 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 6,606

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.31 US cents, from 70.31 US cents on Tuesday

* 76.06 Japanese yen, from 76.00 yen

* 62.55 euro cents, from 62.47 cents

* 56.57 British pence, from 55.96 pence

* 104.47 NZ cents, from 104.68 cents.