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Aust shares edge higher ahead of data

The Australian share market edged higher on Monday in a quiet start to a holiday-shortened week, as investors remained cautious ahead of key local and overseas economic data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 5.1 points, or 0.07 per cent higher, at 7457.3.

The broader All Ordinaries rose 7.9 points, or 0.1 per cent, to close at 7674.2.

The minuscule gains came despite a promising lead from Wall Street, after US markets rallied on Friday. The local index rose as much as 0.3 per cent to a fresh nine-month high in early trading before giving up most of the gains.

Trading volumes were also low, with major Asia Pacific markets including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea all closed.

"There's a lot on the line in terms of economic news, including inflation data in Australia and New Zealand," said Saxo Markets strategist Jessica Amir.

"We also have some of the biggest companies in the world, including Microsoft and Tesla, reporting this week. And there is a gloomy expectation for the outlook."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will detail December quarter inflation data on Wednesday with most economists expecting price increases to have peaked during the period.

The data comes ahead of the Reserve Bank's board meeting next week that could result in another 0.25 percentage point rate hike as the central bank continues its fight to control inflation.

"The CPI data would be further validation that we will continue to potentially see 0.25 percentage point hikes," Ms Amir said.

In the local market, energy and technology stocks were the best performers but the gains were offset by weakness in mining, healthcare and consumer stocks.

Energy stocks were the best performers, climbing nearly 1 per cent after oil prices settled higher on Friday as economic prospects brightened in China, the world's second-biggest economy.

Shares in major oil and gas producers Woodside Energy and Santos rose 1.7 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. Karoon Energy jumped 7.4 per cent after announcing an increase in reserves at its Santos Basin concession in Brazil.

Technology stocks also took a cue from their counterparts on Wall Street. The ASX-listed shares of payments giant Block jumped 6 per cent to $108.51, while software maker Xero and Link Admin were up more than 1 per cent each.

Buy now, pay later operator Sezzle surged 37 per cent to 75 cents a share after reporting profits for the second month in a row.

Financial stocks were mixed, with three of the Big Four major banks closing in the red.

Among heavyweight mining stocks, iron ore miners BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals all closed about 1 per cent lower. However, lithium shares again performed strongly, with Pilbara Minerals leading the pack for a second straight session, climbing 6 per cent to $4.83 following a jump in its December quarter sales.

Diversified miner South32 rose 1.3 per cent after posting a 24 per cent jump in its second-quarter metallurgical coal output.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar rose ahead of inflation data. It was buying 69.78 US cents at 1700 AEDT, from 69.25 US cents at Friday's ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Monday 5.1 points, or 0.07 per cent higher, at 7457.3.

* The broader All Ordinaries rose 7.9 points, or 0.1 per cent, to close at 7674.2.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.78 US cents, from 69.25 US cents at Friday's ASX close

* 90.62 Japanese yen, from 89.37 Japanese yen

* 64.03 Euro cents, from 63.93 Euro cents

* 56.18 British pence, from 55.95 pence

* 107.84 NZ cents, from 107.98 NZ cents.