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Australian market extends gains

Australian market extends gains

CANBERRA: The Australian stock market is rising for a fifth straight day on Monday, following the gains on Wall Street Friday amid optimism about corporate tax reform under U.S. Donald Trump. Investors also cheered upbeat local corporate earnings results. In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 26.40 points or 0.46 percent to 5,747.00, off a high of 5,750.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 27.50 points or 0.48 percent to 5,799.10. In the mining space, BHP Billiton is rising more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto is adding more than 3 percent and Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 4 percent after iron ore prices rose Friday. Oil stocks are also higher as crude oil prices advanced. Santos is gaining almost 2 percent, Woodside Petroleum is up 2 percent and Oil Search is rising more than 2 percent. Gold miner Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are adding more than 1 percent each. Newcrest Mining more than doubled its first-half profit and said it will pay its first interim dividend in four years. The big four banks are largely unchanged. ANZ Banking and Westpac Banking are up less than 0.1 percent each and National Australia Bank is higher by 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down less than 0.1 percent.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s first-half cash earnings stayed flat at A$224.7 million amid pressure on its net interest margin and higher debt. The bank’s shares are losing almost 5 percent. Domino’s Pizza Enterprises has defended its record of franchisee profitability and staff payments following media reports that the company squeezed franchisees, while the franchisees have underpaid employees and committed visa fraud. The pizza maker’s shares are losing more than 4 percent. Meanwhile, JB Hi-Fi reported a 16 percent increase in first-half net profit on strong revenue growth. The consumer electronics retailer’s shares are gaining more than 6 percent.

Amcor’s shares are higher by more than 4 percent after the global packaging company’s first-half net profit fell 6 percent, while underlying earnings rose. Aurizon Holdings turned to a net profit in the first half, compared to a loss in the year-ago period that was impacted by writedowns and charges. The rail freight operator’s shares are rising more than 5 percent. In economic news, Australia will see December data for credit card purchases and balances today. In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar amid higher iron ore prices. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7680, up slightly from US$0.7640 on Friday. On Wall Street, stocks once again ended the session at new record closing highs on Friday, reflecting optimism about corporate tax reform under President Donald Trump. News that Trump spoke by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping and agreed to honor the “one China” policy also eased concerns about tensions between the two countries. The Dow advanced 96.97 points or 0.5 percent to 20,269.37, the Nasdaq rose 18.95 points or 0.3 percent to 5,734.13 and the S&P 500 climbed 8.23 points or 0.4 percent to 2,316.10. The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line, the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.4 percent. Crude oil futures rose sharply Friday, ending a topsy-turvy week on the rebound amid hopes the global supply glut is dwindling. March WTI crude rose 86 cents, or 1.6 percent, to settle at $53.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.