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  • Foreign Markets - Detailed News

Australia Market trades higher
01-Mar-19   09:10 Hrs IST
Headline indices of the Australian financial market were higher in afternoon trade on Friday, 1 March 2019, as investors welcomed solid U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) data and better than expected Caixin manufacturing PMI data. Upbeat Australian manufacturing sector data also boosted sentiment. ASX sectors were mostly higher, with shares in with consumer discretionary, consumer staples, financials, and property trusts subsectors being notable gainers, while energy and materials subsectors were notable losers. Around late afternoon, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 34.11 points, or 0.56%, at 6,203.10 points, while the broader All Ordinaries inclined 32.74 points, or 0.52%, at 6,285.40.

The U.S. economy grew at 2.6% year on year in the fourth quarter of 2018, down from 3.4% in the previous quarter, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Thursday.

China's factory activity improved in February but remained in contractionary territory for a third month as the world's second-largest economy continued to struggle with weak export orders, a private survey showed on Friday. The readings - closely watched by investors as an alternative to the official data and more focussed on smaller firms - offered further evidence China's economy is losing momentum and suggests the U.S.-Sino trade war will continue to weigh on exports as prospects for a trade deal remain uncertain. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for February rose to 49.9 from 48.3 in January, just below the neutral 50-mark dividing expansion from contraction on a monthly basis. Economists had forecast a sharper deterioration for February of 48.5.

The results of the China's private survey came on the heels of official PMI China released on Thursday which showed manufacturing activity fell for the third straight month, dropping to 49.2 in February from 49.5 in January, according to data released by the country's National Bureau of Statistics. Investors have been closely watching economic indicators from the world's second-largest economy for signs of trouble amid domestic headwinds and the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute. The manufacturing data come days before China's annual meeting of parliament which starts on March 5. Top officials are widely expected to announce more support measures such as sweeping tax cuts to reduce the strains on the economy. Chinese leaders will also reveal Beijing's key economic and financial targets for the year which may provide clues on their future policy stance. Actual growth in the world's second-largest economy cooled to 6.6% in 2018 — the slowest in 28 years — from 6.8% in 2017.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank were higher in a range of 0.4% to 0.9%.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto fell more than 1%, BHP Group was down 0.6% and Fortescue Metals was lower by 0.4%.

Oil stocks were also mostly lower despite an increase in crude oil prices overnight. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are lost more than 1% each, while Santos was up 0.5%.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield or URW, the former Westfield Group, said it has sold its 34% stake in the Jumbo shopping centre in Helsinki, Finland to current co-owner Elo Mutual Pension Insurance Co. for 248.6 million euros. The sale is part of the company's asset disposal program. URW's shares rose almost 1%.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group that the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in February, and at a faster pace, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 54.0. That's up from 52.5 in January, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

CURRENCY: The Australian dollar was lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The Australian dollar was quoted at $0.7100, down from $0.7144 on Thursday.

OFFSHORE MARKET NEWS: US share market fell slightly on Thursday as support from better-than-feared US GDP data was countered by concerns about earnings and US-China trade relations. Investors were also unimpressed by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow's assurance Thursday that US-China trade negotiations were moving forward after “fantastic” progress made last week. Also on Thursday, President Donald Trump said he had walked out of his Vietnam summit with Kim Jong Un because of demands from the North Korean leader to lift US-led sanctions. The U.S. economy grew at 2.6% year on year in the fourth quarter of 2018, down from 3.4% in the previous quarter, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 69.16 points, or 0.27%, to 25,916, the S&P 500 lost 7.89 points, or 0.28%, to 2,784.49 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 21.98 points, or 0.29%, to 7,532.53.

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