ASX closes up 0.36pc, AUD at 77.4 US cents
Australia's share market has closed a little higher as investors favoured consumer and technology stocks, expected to do well in next month's earnings reports.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 24.3 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6824.7 on Monday.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 32.5 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 7111.4.
There was little company news as many people took the day off before the market closes for the Australia Day public holiday on Tuesday.
The top sectors were consumer discretionaries and staples, and technology, which all gained a little more than one per cent.
The interest in these sectors, as well as the heavyweight materials sector's 0.83 per cent gain, helped investors shake off a mostly negative lead from Wall Street's Friday trade.
Burman Invest chief investment officer Julia Lee said the interest in consumer and technology stocks may show investors preparing for earnings season.
"Consumer and technology are both sectors that should outperform so this might be positioning ahead of earnings next month," she said.
Despite lockdowns and coronavirus worries, retailers have thrived during the pandemic.
"The reason why retail spending has been so strong is consumers haven't been able to travel," Ms Lee said.
In Australia, JB Hi-Fi and Super Retail Group (BCF, Supercheap Auto) last week flagged likely 86.2 per cent and 201 per cent rises in net profit after tax when they report earnings next month.
In the US, tech giants including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and Tesla will report this week.
In Monday's session, Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings and Kmart, set a record price of $54.48 per share then closed higher by 1.74 per cent to $54.34.
Breville Group, which makes kitchen appliances, set a record $30.20 per share then closed up by 1.01 per cent to $30.00.
Before trade began, Australia's therapeutic goods regulator said it had approved Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine.
The first jabs are set for late next month.
However the news did not help travel stocks.
Webjet shed 3.83 per cent to $4.77. Air New Zealand lost 2.52 per cent to $1.54.
Ms Lee said this may have been due to New Zealand's first local case of COVID-19 in months.
A woman tested positive for the virus after completing her isolation after arrival in New Zealand.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said quarantine-free travel from New Zealand would be suspended for 72 hours while officials investigated.
Australia enjoyed its fourth-highest goods trade surplus on record in December, with exports jumping 16 per cent in the month.
Preliminary international trade figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Australia recorded a $9 billion goods trade surplus in December, up from $7.4 billion in November.
Imports from China fell by $641 million or seven per cent, while exports increased by $2.2 billion or 21 per cent.
On the ASX, electric battery researcher Novonix fared best of the large stocks and was 29.39 per cent higher to $3.61.
The company last week said a subsidiary won a $US5.57 million US government grant to better produce lithium-ion batteries.
It also hired a professor working with electric vehicle maker Tesla.
The big four banks all closed higher by less than 0.3 per cent.
The December quarter consumer price index is released on Wednesday.
Economists' expect a 0.7 per cent quarterly rise, which will also keep the annual rate at 0.7 per cent, below the Reserve Bank's two to three per cent inflation target band.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.40 US cents at 1726 AEDT, lower from 77.43 US cents at Friday's close.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 24.3 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6824.7 on Monday.
* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 32.5 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 7111.4.
* At 1740 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by four points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6757 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 77.40 US cents, from 77.43 cents on Friday
* 80.27 Japanese yen, from 80.14 yen
* 63.55 Euro cents, from 63.57 cents
* 56.44 British pence, from 56.47 pence
* 107.36 NZ cents, from 107.65 cents.
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