After a 0.5 per cent fall yesterday, the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is now up by 21pt or 0.4 per cent. Local stocks have only fallen on two occasions over the past 12 trading sessions; rising by 4.5 per cent since mid-October.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, February 22, 2011.
Another improvement in US equities overnight is helping to push us higher. The S&P500 (a broad measure of US share performance) closed at an all-time high for the 33rd time this year. It was one of the busiest sessions of the week, with retail sales rising in-line with expectations, consumer confidence falling (US political shutdown and debt ceiling woes playing a part) while the two-day Federal Reserve meeting kicked off.
Yesterday's better than expected $6.5 billion annual cash profit for ANZ Bank (ANZ) is helping the sector, with its shares up 0.75 per cent. Over the next week we'll hear from both National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac (WBC) with Full Year earnings.
Australia's largest telco and sixth biggest company, Telstra (TLS) is 0.39 per cent firmer; taking the gains this year to 18 per cent.
Discount retailer, JB Hi-Fi (JBH), Australia's biggest travel agent, Flight Centre (FLT) and the owner of NRMA - Insurance Australia Group (IAG) are all holding their Annual General Meetings (AGMs) with shareholders today. JBH said it expects to have opened six new stores between July and the December, is forecasting to have 214 stores by June next year and made no change to its profit guidance. JBH is up 4.3 per cent and is up by 107 per cent this calendar year.
Insurance Australia Group (IAG) said it's on track to meet its FY14 expectations. IAG has received 660 claims in respect of the NSW bushfires and expects net claims to cost in the region of $65m - $85m. Last financial year, IAG more than tripled its annual profit and more than doubled its distribution to shareholders.
The Australian dollar buys US94.8 cents - with yesterday's RBA Governor's comments that investors should essentially prepare themselves for higher rates contributing to the losses. The Fed meeting which will end tomorrow morning is likely to be the big driver of our currency at 5am (AEDT) tomorrow - when the meeting ends.
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