Australia Markets closed

Aust shares defy Wall St to end higher

Christian Edwards
AAP

Australian shares have closed higher on their first day of trading for the week, ignoring China-US trade war fears that contributed to heavy falls on Wall Street last Friday.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 20 points at 5,808.7 points on Monday, and the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 17.8 points at 5,904.7 points.

Gains for healthcare and the consumer stocks more than offset falls among the energy companies and while the banks had a mixed day.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said that local investors are less worried about a trade conflict between the US and China.

"The slowing of rhetoric and the strong performance in Asia-Pacific markets shows we are seeing an in-public negotiation of a new trade agreement - not the beginning of a trade war," Mr McCarthy said.

Mr McCarthy said Monday trading was governed by "bottom up," or individual company news.

Atlas Iron shares surged after the junior miner agreed to a $280 million takeover offer by Mineral Resources.

Atlas shares closed 0.8 cents, or 42 per cent, higher at 2.7 cents while Mineral Resources shares closed $1.19, or 6.9 per cent lower at $16.05 after Atlas Iron's board recommended its shareholders accept an all-scrip offer.

Other local miners were mixed following a step back in iron ore prices, BHP Billiton up 0.1 per cent, to $28.66, Rio Tinto gaining 0.3 per cent to $73.47 and Fortescue Metals falling 0.9 per cent to $4.28.

The major banks fell away in late trade, National Australia Bank into negative territory, down 0.2 per cent, to $28.78, while ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank closed 0.1 per cent higher to $26.87 and $73.55 respectively and Westpac ended 0.2 per cent higher, at $29.10.

The local energy sector fell on lower oil prices following intensified conflict in the Middle East and trade tension in the Asia-Pacific, with losses to Woodside Petroleum, down 0.9 per cent, to $29.84 and to Origin Energy, down 0.9 per cent to $8.71.

Oil Search was steady at $7.31.

Macquarie Atlas Roads found 26 cents, or 4.6 per cent, to $5.91 after announcing it will become "Atlas Arteria" once it has separated its management from the Macquarie Group, which gained 0.3 per cent $101.60

Agribusiness Elders rose 3.6 per cent, to $7.99 after offloading an underperforming assets in Indonesia, and expanding its chemicals livestock businesses in Australia.

With the US earnings season approaching as a significant driver for local stocks, Mr McCarthy said expectations of a 19 per cent earnings increase forecast across the S&P 500, meant most of the risks are on the downside for US stocks.

"That's an extraordinary expectation and a real acceleration in the recovery that we've already seen out of the US ... any indication that speaks to how corporate America is tracking against those expectations will be very important for local investors."

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the US dollar, which has fallen following the weaker-than-expected US jobs data on Friday.

At 1700 AEST, the Aussie was worth 76.92 US cents, up from 76.69 US cents on Friday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 20 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 5,808.7 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 17.8 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5,904.7 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 21 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 5,793 points

* National turnover was 3.7 billion securities traded, worth $4.4 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.92 US cents, from 76.69 on Friday

* 82.39 Japanese yen, from 82.38 yen

* 62.58 euro cents, from 62.68 euro cents

* 54.55 British pence, from 54.80 pence

* 105.33 NZ cents, from 105.81 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,331.33 per fine ounce, from $US1,324.44 per fine ounce on Friday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0225 pct, from 2.029pct on Friday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6399pct, from 2.6289pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.31 (implying a yield of 2.69pct), from 97.330 (2.670pct) on Friday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.835 (2.165pct), from 97.830 (2.170pct).

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