ASX rises after Wall Street makes gains, with the Nasdaq hitting a...

ASX rises after Wall Street makes gains, with the Nasdaq hitting a fresh high


The Australian share market has risen in early trade, with technology stocks following their US counterparts higher.

By 10:30am AEST the ASX 200 was up by 0.6 per cent to 6,154 points.

The technology and financials sectors were performing strongly, while health care, utilities and telcos were dragging.

Reporting season continues, with Suncorp reporting an increase in full-year net profit to $913 million, including profits from the sale of some businesses.

Suncorp shares jumped 8.2 per cent to $9.41.

However, cash earnings were down by about a third at $749 million, due to reduced profits from its insurance and banking and wealth divisions.

“It has been a challenging 12 months for Suncorp and for the customers and communities we support,” chief executive Steve Johnston said, highlighting the extreme weather conditions over the summer, followed by the pandemic.

Shareholders will receive a final dividend of 10 cents per share.

Shares in Mosaic Brands dropped 5.5 per cent after the clothing retail group said 129 of its stores in Westfield centres nationally had been closed by landlord Scentre Group.

The Bureau of Statistics will release preliminary retail figures for July later this morning, capturing the first phase of the renewed coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne.

NAB has forecast a half a per cent rise in retail sales for the month.

“Surprising to some has been the strength shown in retail sales to date, with the level of retail sales 7.2 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, a trend also seen in other countries with household incomes bolstered by government support,” NAB economist Tapas Strickland said.

The Australian dollar has risen to around 72.1 US cents.

Wall Street rises despite increased jobless claims

The Nasdaq hit another all-time high overnight as investors shook off some weak economic data out of the US.

It was the 19th record closing high for the Nasdaq since early June, and the 35th so far this year.

Apple shares rose again, after yesterday hitting $US2 trillion in market value, while Microsoft and Amazon also boosted the broader market.

The gains came despite data showing the number of claims for unemployment benefits in the US rose back above 1 million last week, with 1.1 million Americans filing a new claim.

The previous week, jobless claims had fallen below the 1 million mark for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

First-time claims peaked at nearly 6.9 million in late March.

People who lost their jobs wait in line wearing face masks.
Unemployment benefits were claimed by 1.1 million Americans last week.(Reuters: Nick Oxford)

Commonwealth Bank international economist Kim Mundy said there was a risk the real picture of the US jobs market was weaker, as a temporary hiring blitz for the once-in-a-decade US census distorted the data.

“As of August 8, temporary workers hired by the census almost doubled compared to the prior week,” she said, noting the hiring could continue until the end of September.

“In our view, the hiring for the census may mask some of the negative effects of COVID-19 on the US labour market.”

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