ASX rallies despite RBA inflation warning

Shares on the Australian market had their best day in three weeks despite stronger economic measures against Russia and a warning of higher inflation.

A broad-based rally on Wednesday produced gains of more than one per cent after a three-day losing streak.

The US declared a ban on Russian oil imports while European leaders will reduce gas imports from Russia this year due to Vladimir Putin’s troops invading Ukraine.

The allies and much of the corporate world are boycotting Russian trade to prompt Putin to give up the war effort, which began late last month.

The Brent crude oil price rose to $US130.65 per barrel and US leaders conceded prices will keep rising while the war rages.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe said surging oil prices would produce annual inflation of four per cent in Australia this year.

While the oil price has pushed up ASX energy shares recently, they gained just 0.14 per cent on Wednesday.

Technology shares were best and rose three per cent.

Telecommunications had the next best performance. These shares rose two per cent.

There were gains of one per cent for shares in consumer discretionaries, financials and property.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 72.7 points, or 1.04 per cent, to 7053 points.

The index is still down about 600 points from its record high from August last year.

The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 78.9 points, or 1.09 per cent, to 7331.8 points.

In stock news, Origin Energy will run a $250 million on-market share buyback from April.

CEO Frank Calabria said the company had met its target capital structure and wanted to help shareholder returns.

Origin was up one per cent to $5.86.

Nickel Mines paused trading in its shares after they were down 22 per cent earlier, after a record high of $1.79 a day prior.

Shareholder Tsingshan group has a short position in nickel, which rocketed in price on the London Metals Exchange overnight.

Concerns over Russian supply prompted surges so great the exchange stopped trading.

After Nickel Mines stopped trading, Tsingshan said it was not planning to sell shares.

Nickel Mines resumed trading and closed lower by four per cent to $1.40.

Among the bigger players in commodities shares, Fortescue gained almost one per cent to $18.83.

BHP and Rio Tinto lost about half a per cent or less.

Gaming machine and software provider Aristocrat said it did not expect the war in Ukraine would affect its earnings.

The company’s European-based offshoot Pixel United has about 1,000 workers in Ukraine and two thirds of these have moved to safer places.

Aristocrat has suspended operating mobile games in Russia, which makeup three per cent of Pixel United bookings.

Aristocrat was up four per cent to $35.20.

Insurer IAG has received about 24,000 claims from the floods and storms that have battered parts of NSW and Queensland since late February.

The company has revised its total claims estimate for the event to $74 million, down from $95 million, due to work on earlier claims.

IAG was little changed at $4.26.

Meanwhile a consortium of superannuation funds have completed the takeover of Sydney Airport.

The airport’s securities have been paused from trading since February 9 and will be removed from the ASX on Thursday.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.90 US cents at 1721 AEDT, higher than the 72.87 US cents at Tuesday’s close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 72.7 points, or 1.04 per cent, to 7053 points on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 78.9 points, or 1.09 per cent, to 7331.8 points.

* At 1721 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down two points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7035 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.90 US cents, from 72.87 cents on Tuesday

* 84.37 Japanese yen, from 84.06 yen

* 66.71 Euro cents, from 67.07 cents

* 55.54 British pence, from 55.54 pence

* 107.00 NZ cents, from 106.96 cents.

 

Steven Deare
(Australian Associated Press)

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