Miners drive market to a small gain

Petrina Berry
(Australian Associated Press)

The share market overcame a soft start to end the day slightly higher as strength among miners and utility companies offset weakness for the energy producers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 edged 3.6 points higher to 5,897.6 points.

Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said mixed global oil prices weighed on energy companies.

However, the market is tracking well and continues to remain within striking distance of 6,000 points, a level it has not topped since February 2008, he said.

“With the banks reporting later this week and next week, we just might get a spur and rise above 6,000 points,” Mr Heffernan said.

In the energy sector, Oil Search shed one per cent to $7.13, Origin Energy dropped 0.8 per cent to $7.46 and Woodside Petroleum was 0.2 per cent weaker at $29.40.

Telcos also lost ground, with Vocus Group dropping 3.9 per cent to $2.69 as its chairman Vaughan Bowen apologised to shareholders for what he said was “not a good year”.

TPG Telecom shed one per cent to $5.16 and Telstra gained one cent to $3.56.

“The telco stocks, particularly Vocus, are down quite a bit because of the NBN uncertainty,” Mr Heffernan said.

The Turnbull government has admitted the NBN is not commercially viable as retailers decline to purchase sufficient bandwidth while aggressively competing against each other for new customers who aren’t prepared to pay more for faster broadband services.

Utilities were the market’s best performers, with AGL Energy adding 1.3 per cent to $25.10 and gas pipeline operator APA Group 0.6 per cent stronger at $8.63.

Miners also gained ground, with Fortescue Metals adding 1.2 per cent to $5.00, gold miner Newcrest rising one per cent to $21.74 and South32 was 1.3 per cent stronger at $3.15.

Rio Tinto and BHP posted modest gains.

The big four banks all dropped slightly, with ANZ the weakest performer, shedding 0.2 per cent to $30.47.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 3.6 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 5,897.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 5.3 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 5,962.5 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 10 points at 5,883 points.

* National turnover was 4 billion securities traded worth $5.04 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.11 US cents, from 78.31 US cents on Monday

* 88.67 Japanese yen, from 88.99 yen

* 66.44 euro cents, from 66.51 euro cents

* 59.12 British pence, from 59.26 pence

* 112.70 NZ cents, from 112.17 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,280.95 per fine ounce, from $US1,276.63 per fine ounce on Monday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0004pct, from 2.0185pct on Monday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7264pct, from 2.7531pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.2 (implying a yield of 2.8pct), from 97.17 (2.83pct) on Monday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.87 (2.13pct), from 97.84 (2.16pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)

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