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Resources sectors drive market higher

Petrina Berry
AAP
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The Australian stock market has opened slightly higher after a lacklustre performance on US indexes.

The Australian stock market has opened slightly higher after a lacklustre performance on US indexes.

The share market has edged higher as gains by miners and energy companies offset weakness in the retail and healthcare sectors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.1 per cent to 6,135.8 points, its fifth straight session of gains.

Morgans client adviser Tim Evans said financial, telco and utility stocks made ground, but it was the miners and energy companies that kept the market in positive territory.

"The mining sector has led the market higher as it has done throughout the Christmas period with Rio Tinto and BHP hitting multi-year highs," Mr Evans said.

"This is on the back of stronger commodity prices across the board."

As iron ore and base metal prices rose, Rio Tinto gained 2.3 per cent to $79.87, BHP Billiton added 1.7 per cent to $31.06 and Fortescue Metals was 1.5 per cent stronger at $5.31.

Woodside Petroleum lifted 0.8 per cent to $34.65, Oil Search was one per cent higher at $8.06 and Origin Energy climbed 1.5 per cent to $9.76.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank was the only one to fall, down 0.7 per cent, while Commonwealth Bank gained 0.7 per cent, ANZ rose 0.4 per cent and Westpac lifted 0.1 per cent.

Discretionary consumer related companies struggled, with Aristocrat Leisure down 1.7 per cent to $22.66, Tabcorp down 1.8 per cent to $5.33 and Crown Resorts 0.1 per cent weaker at $12.94.

In the healthcare sector, CSL dropped one per cent to $141.90 and Cochlear shed 0.4 per cent to $173.50.

Retail Food Group fell 6.1 per cent to $2.32 after it issued a second profit warning in less than a month, saying the timing of new licence agreements overseas would mean its half year net profit will be lower than the $22 million it predicted on December 19.

The Australian dollar gained ground against the US dollar on the back of the lift in iron ore prices.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 5.4 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 6,135.8 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 5 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 6,241.5 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 7 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 6,088 points.

* National turnover was 4.8 billion securities traded worth $6 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.54 US cents, from 78.41 US cents on Monday

* 88.50 Japanese yen, from 88.78 yen

* 65.64 euro cents, from 65.23 euro cents

* 57.86 British pence, from 57.84 pence

* 109.31 NZ cents, from 109.36 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,319.20 per fine ounce, from $US1,317.75 per fine ounce on Monday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2,0017pct, from 1.9772pct on Monday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6214pct, from 2.5969pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.325 (implying a yield of 2.675pct), from 97.345 (2.655pct) on Monday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.865 (2.135pct), from 97.88 (2.12pct)

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)