ASX: Share market gains as RBA flags interest rate cuts

The ASX has defied regional share market declines to eke out a modest 0.25 per cent rise, as the Reserve Bank hinted at further rate cuts.

While major markets across Asia sold off - with Tokyo's Nikkei down 0.25 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng off 1.2 per cent and mainland China's key Shanghai market down 1.7 per cent - Australia's ASX 200 index rose 0.25 per cent to 5,292.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up 14 points to 5,359.

The local share market appeared to benefit from the Reserve Bank's latest Statement on Monetary Policy, which economists interpreted as hinting at further rate cuts given its ultra-low inflation forecast.

Retailers gained most strongly on the prospect of more money in the hands of borrowers through rate cuts.

Woolworths jumped 1.4 per cent to $21.21, Wesfarmers 1.2 per cent, JB Hi-Fi 2.5 per cent and Myer 3.8 per cent.

There were few other clear sector trends, with two of the big banks up (Westpac gained 1 per cent and NAB 1.3 per cent) and the other two down (ANZ 0.8 per cent and Commonwealth 0.7 per cent).

Likewise, BHP Billiton edged 0.2 per cent higher to $18.46 after its horror run earlier this week, while Rio Tinto eased 0.7 per cent.

Qantas suffered a 2.4 per cent descent, even though crude oil prices eased a little.

Medibank was one of the day's biggest losers, however, posting its biggest one-day loss since floating of 5.5 per cent to $3.10 on a warning that its second-half operating profit will be down on its first-half result.

The Australian dollar also got crunched on the same RBA report that boosted retail stocks - it has lost more than a cent over the past day to 73.65 US cents by 5:00pm (AEST).

Source: ABC News

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