Australia: Financial And Gold Stocks Inch Higher

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Hopes of the Federal Reserve changing its policies were dashed after better-than-expected US retail sales data was released, although Australian shares still rose marginally on Thursday. 

By 2356 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index had increased by 0.1 per cent to 7,131.10 after closing lower by 0.3 per cent in the prior session.

New data from overnight showed that retail sales had risen more than anticipated last month, which could make the Fed’s recent aggressive rate hikes look less justified.

Gold stocks in Australia increased by 0.9% as prices for bullion hovered near three-month highs, and investors’ attention turned from global tensions to the Fed’s plans for future rate hikes.

Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources, both top gold miners, increased by 1.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively. Out of the “big four” banks, three gained between 0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent, bringing the financials up to a total of 0.2 per cent.

The fund manager Pendal Group and buyer Perpetual decided to change the buyout structure of their US$1.58 billion deal by reducing the cash component and increasing the stock component.

“Overall Australian investors are assessing whether the market has stabilised, and this is a good time to start buying,” said Russel Chesler, head of Investments and Capital Markets at VanEck Australia.

ASX’s shares fell 3 per cent after the announcement that the bourse operator would be halting its clearing software replacement project. ASX said this decision would result in a pretax charge of A$255 million in the first half of 2023.

The day’s top percentage gainers were healthcare and tech stocks, which rose 0.7 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.

After oil prices took a tumble in the past day, energy stocks have also taken a hit. Leading companies Santos and Woodside Energy saw their stock fall by 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively.

It was a tough day for miners as the sector slipped 0.8 per cent. Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group were some of the worst hit, each losing between 0.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent.

The S&P/NZX 50 index in New Zealand was up by 0.5 per cent, reaching 11,288 points.

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