The Australian stock market recorded a steady performance last week. Investors pushed the market back to levels last seen at the middle of January. This is amid ongoing optimism for economic growth at home and overseas. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.8% to 6055 points after falling by 1.1% last week. All major industry groups finished the week in positive territory. IT, Health Care and Energy were the best performing sectors.
In the corporate news, ResMed continued its strong run since the release of the sleep apnoea machine maker’s results. Australian Pharmaceutical Industries reaffirmed guidance for full-year net profit. They aim FY18 to be “marginally ahead” of FY17 despite an expected 9% slide in first-half earnings. McGrath plunged 13.8% immediately after issuing another profit warning and announcing the resignation of all board members. Electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi has been ranked among the top 250 retailers in the world by Deloitte. This is due to consistent comparative sales growth and acquisition of whitegoods retailer The Good Guys in late 2016. QBE flagged a full year loss of about $USD1.2 billion (A$1.5 billion) on almost $US1 billion of one-off costs and blowouts associated with wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean.
With earnings season in full swing, investors held to the risk-on stance that’s taken stocks around the world higher. The synchronised global economic recovery shows no signs of slowing and the BOJ’s signal added to optimism that central banks won’t rush to tap the brakes. Investors will also keep an eye on Davos, Switzerland, where the world’s business elites gathered for an annual conference roiled by protectionist moves across the Atlantic.
The European Central Bank announces its rate decision later today. The U.K. House of Lords is considering Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit bill this week. U.S. equity gauges closed at records as the government shutdown appeared to be on the brink of ending and investors turned their attention toward earnings. Asian markets followed the trend higher. European markets, however, were weak. London’s FTSE was down 1.1%, France and Germany lost 0.6% and 0.1%, respectively.