The Australian market was higher last week and like global markets, we weren’t overly impacted by North Korea’s latest missile launch over Japan in the previous week. North Korea likely reacting to new sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council designed to tighten the screws on the nation by capping oil exports to the country and banning the purchase of North Korea’s textile exports. In local data, the Australian economy added 54.2k jobs in August, comprised of 40.1k full-time workers and 14.1k part-time workers. The unemployment rate was steady at 5.6% whilst the participation rate ticked up to the highest rate since 2012. From the point of the markets, the best performing sectors were financials, information technology and consumer discretionary. Commonwealth Bank of Australia had a positive contribution to the financials sector, supported by APRA’s comments that the viability of the country’s largest lender was not threatened by a probe into the recent money laundering scandal. The worst performing sectors were utilities, telecommunications and industrials. In company news, Galaxy Resources was the best performer on the ASX 200 index on optimism over the future of the electric vehicle market with China most recently indicating that it will set a deadline for car makers to end production of fossil fuel powered cars. Vocus Group was one of the worst performers following reports that it faces a potential class action run by Slater & Gordon in relation to the company’s profit downgrade announced for the 2017 financial year.
In global markets, Wall Street was higher with all three major indices hitting record highs mid-week. Concern over the impact of Hurricane Irma on financial markets subsided as the hit on Florida with less sever than originally feared. Market expectations of a rate hike in the U.S. this year increased as a result of the better than expected data and an increase in CPI. European markets were mostly higher except for the FTSE 100 with British pound strength weighing on multinational companies in the index. The pound climbed after the Bank of England hinted that rates could increase in the coming months, helped by the consumer price index rising in August. Asian markets were higher despite disappointing data out of China that raised questions about the strength of the economy.
The Australian dollar was mixed against major global currencies this week. Better than expected U.S. CPI data pushed the Australian dollar below US80c. The Bank of England’s comments around the likelihood of an upcoming interest rate hike strengthened the British pound