Australian Market Extends Gains After RBA Minutes

(RTTNews) - The Australian stock market is extending gains on Tuesday from the previous session despite the absence of fresh cues overnight from Wall Street.

Upbeat corporate news and minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's February 2 monetary policy meeting that showed Australia's economy is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic at a faster than expected pace generated positive sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 34.10 points or 0.50 percent to 6,903.00, after rising to a high of 6,913.70. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 34.40 points or 0.48 percent to 7,184.10. Australian stocks closed higher on Monday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is adding more than 3 percent and Fortescue Metals is advancing almost 2 percent.

BHP Group reported a 20 percent fall in net profit for the first half due to an impairment charge on its NSW thermal coal assets, but underlying profit rose 16 percent and the company declared a higher interim dividend. The mining giant's shares are rising more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are also higher. Oil Search is rising more than 2 percent, Santos and Woodside Petroleum are higher by almost 2 percent each.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking and Westpac are advancing more than 1 percent each, while National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are adding 0.6 percent.

Gold miners are mixed. Newcrest Mining is down 0.5 percent, while Evolution Mining is adding 0.4 percent.

Adairs reported a 233 percent surge in net profit for the first half of the year and said it plans to return millions of dollars in JobKeeper wage subsidy payments to the federal government. However, the home furnishings group's shares are lower by almost 1 percent.

Coca-Cola European Partners or CCEP, the European bottling arm of Coca-Cola, has sweetened its final binding takeover bid for Coca-Cola Amatil by 6 percent to A$13.5 per share. However, shares of Coca-Cola Amatil, which said it backs the offer, are down 0.2 percent.

In economic news, members of the Reserve Bank of Australia's Monetary Policy Board agreed that the country's economy is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic at a faster pace than expected, minutes from the bank's February 2 meeting revealed on Tuesday.

The development of numerous vaccines to treat the pandemic has spurred improvement in the global economy, the minutes showed. In Australia, unemployment has fallen more than expected, while inflation remains well below the target.

At the meeting, the RBA decided to maintain the targets of 10 basis points for the cash rate and the yield on the 3-year Australian Government bond, as well as the parameters of the Term Funding Facility.

The board also decided to buy an additional A$100 billion of bonds issued by the Australian Government and states and territories when the current bond purchase program is completed in mid-April.

Overnight, the U.S. markets were closed for the President's Day holiday.

The major European markets ended higher on Monday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 2.5 percent, France's CAC 40 advanced 1.5 percent and Germany's DAX gained added 0.4 percent.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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