The ASX is looking at a near 1% opening this morning after a strong finish to overnight futures trading on Saturday morning as Wall Street and European shares ended a solid week’s trading.
Eurozone shares rose 1.6% on Friday and the US S&P 500 gained 1.1% to be up by 2% to 3% over the week, setting the upbeat tone for today.
But with America closed tonight for a public holiday, markets will be nervous until Wall Street resumes Tuesday night, our time.
But reflecting the mostly positive global lead from Friday (Asian markets ended in the red), ASX 200 futures closed up 53 points or 0.9% on Saturday morning, making for a positive start to trade for the Australian share market today and the start of the biggest week in the current earnings season.
The opening will be in contrast to the way trading petered out on Friday as the ASX 200 ended the week a touch lower than it started (after the bank-share driven rise of 3.6% the week before).
The ASX 200 Index ended the week down 5.4 points, or 0.1%, lower at 6,066.1 while the broader All Ordinaries rose 12.4 points, or 0.2%, to 6148.6.
“The Australian December half earnings reporting season has been better than feared but shows a slowdown in growth and caution regarding the outlook,” said AMP Capital Chief Economist Shane Oliver. “Concern remains most intense around the housing downturn and consumer spending.” (See separate story on Australian earnings).
Major banks reversed direction and led the market losses. The Commonwealth Bank fell 5.3% to $70.81 (it went ex-dividend last week, which accounted for much of the fall but rose on Friday), Westpac shares fell 2.1% at $26.24, NAB lost 2.1% to $24.22 and ANZ eased 0.3% to $26.81.
AMP and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank were sold off after reporting weaker results. AMP fell 10.7% to $2.18 after its full-year profits plunged 97% while Bendigo slid 11.5% to $9.87 after reporting a weaker than expected first-half result.
CSL shares fell 4.9% to $185.00 despite raising its interim dividend and saying earnings would be at the upper end of its guidance range from last August.
Telstra shares lost 2% to end at $3.18 after its profits fell 28% in the first half of the 2018-19 year. The company also its cut total interim dividend distribution to 8¢ a share, down from 11¢ last year.
Suncorp Group fell 3.7 % to $13.10 after reporting a 44.7 % fall in half-year profits. Four major weather events meant the insurer exceeded its natural hazards allowance for the last six months of 2018.
But resource stocks mostly did better. South32 rose 4.7% to $3.81, Northern Star Resources climbed 15.5% to $9.76, Newcrest Mining added 2.5% to $24.88 and Woodside Petroleum was up 5.6% to $36.06 with all four reporting positive earnings.
BHP Group rose 3.2% to $36.47, Fortescue Metals Group added 3.8% to $6.27 and Rio Tinto edged up 0.8%t to $91.30. BHP reports it’s interim tomorrow, Fortescue on Wednesday and Rio Tinto next week.
Breville Group was among the best-performing stocks inside the benchmark index, climbing 21.7% to $14.00 after revealing strong results for the first half and said it would be able to weather economic issues in the UK and European Union (it moved into German and Austrian markets for the first time in the half year).