Headline indices of the Australian share market advanced for the first time in four consecutive sessions on Friday, 07 December 2018, as investors chased for value buying on recently battered stocks amid interest rate optimism after reports that Federal Reserve officials are considering a "wait-and-see mentality" after a likely interest rate hike later this month. Market gains were, however, limited amid US economic concerns, as well as the tentative trade stalemate between the country and China. ASX sectors generally gained across the board, with financials, energy, health care and consumer staples stocks being notable gainers. In late afternoon trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 25.55 points, or 0.45%, to 5,683.20 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 21.89 points, or 0.4%, to 5,758.60 points.
Shares of banks and financial stocks were higher. Commonwealth Bank had the strongest rise of the big four lenders, up 1.2% to A$70.49, and ANZ the least, rising 0.7% to A$25.86. Macquarie Group climbed two% to A$114.30.
Shares of materials and resources were mostly lower, dragged down by South32, which fell nearly 1% and Fortescue, down 0.5%. Giants BHP and Rio Tinto were down 0.2 and 0.1% respectively, while BlueScope bucked the sector's trend and was 1.1% higher.
Among individual stocks, Origin Energy (ORG) shares inclined 4% as it holds its investor day. The energy company announced that it continues to prioritise debt repayments and targets more than A$150 million in cost reductions by FY2021. ORG also plans to unveil a dividend policy with its FY19 results.
Virgin Australia (VAH) gained 6% after announcing group revenue grew 9.7% in 1Q19 compared to the prior year and similar growth is expected over 2Q.
Underlying 1H19 underlying profit before tax is anticipated to be at least $100 million.
Wealth manager, IOOF Holdings (IFL) slumped 33% after regulator APRA confirmed it is looking to take action against the business for failing to act in the best interest of its superannuation members. APRA is looking to impose licence conditions and disqualify several executives and directors from the industry. ANZ's sale of its OnePath business to IFL is also being re-assessed.
ECONOMIC NEWS: Australia construction sector continued to contract in November with a Performance of Construction Index score of 44.5, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed on Friday. That's down from 46.4, and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. Among the individual components of the survey, activity, new orders, employment, house building, apartment activity and commercial activity all contracted.
CURRENCY: Australian Dollar, seen as a proxy for China-related trades, gained against greenback on Friday. The Australian dollar was quoted at 72.31 US cents, up from 72.22 US cents on Thursday.
OFFSHORE MARKET: US stock market closed mixed on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 79.40 points or 0.32 percent to 24,947.67. The S&P 500 slipped 4.11 points or 0.15 percent to 2,695.95 while the Nasdaq Composite recovered from its intraday losses to end the trading day 29.83 points or 0.42 percent higher at 7,188.26.
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