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ASX Ends Higher For Sixth Week Straight

A quiet start to the week is expected today on local markets after a less than vibrant end to the week globally on Friday night, our time.

Eurozone shares were flat on Friday, but the S&P 500 rose 0.2% helped by health care stocks as President Trump’s plans to try and cut US drug prices fell flat and were deemed useless by investors.

Drug company shares mostly rose on Friday as President Trump blamed foreigners for (like Australia, but not mentioned) for not paying the high US prices for drugs from American companies. An absurdist argument!

That saw the overnight ASX 200 futures end 4 points or 0.1% higher (after being up seven an hour before trading ended) which suggests, at best, a small gain on the ASX this morning.

That will be after the ASX 200 index eased 2.5 points on Friday to end the week at 6,116.2.

That saw a weekly gain of 53.3 points, or 0.9%, not as strong as the 1.5% rise the week before.

That gain though was despite the weak housing finance and retail sales data and a mixed week for the banks. The 2018-19 federal budget had no impact.

The big drivers were the miners, led by BHP and Rio Tinto which hit their highest levels for more than six years on Friday.

BHP shares rose 5.3% last week, ending at $33.16, the highest close since January 2014, while Rio Tinto shares bounced 36% to hit their highest levels since June 2011.

CBA is still on the nose - its shares fell 3% last week and they are now down 12.2% for the year to date and Friday’s close of $70.53 was the lowest January 2013.

The Commonwealth’s third quarter trading update last week did nothing to change the view that the sector will remain under pressure from weak revenues and profit pressures.

NAB shares were down 2.4% last week and have only lost 3.9% for the year so far, while Westpac shares rose 1.7% last week to be down 5.6% for the year to date. The best performer last week was the ANZ whose shares rose 2.2% to be down just 2% for the year so far (See separate banks story).

Oil, metal prices and the iron ore price rose.

The US dollar was pretty much unchanged as was the Australian dollar despite a mid-week fall dip under 75 US cents, ended around 75.40 US cents, up around 40 points over the week.

The Dow rose 91.64 points, or 0.4%, to 24,831.17, marking its seventh straight positive session — its longest winning streak since a similar stretch that ended November 8, 2017, according to FactSet data.

The S&P 500 edged up 4.65 points, or 0.2%, to 2,727.72, while the Nasdaq ended down by 2.09 points, or off less than 0.1%, at 7,402.88.

For the week, the Dow rose 2.3%, the S&P 500 advanced 2.4% and the Nasdaq climbed 2.7%.

Meanwhile AMP shares fell their lowest point since 2012 after posting a big loss on Friday.

After seemingly to steady in the wake of Thursday’s annual meeting, the shares fell more than 5% on Friday to end at $3.73, the lowest they have been since 2012.

That saw them down 9.9% for the week and 28% for the year to date.

Higher oil prices supported the energy sector while other companies rose and fell on trading updates.

Pendal Group’s shares rose after it announced after it reported a record half year profit. The stock finished the week up 5.3% at $10.19.

Greencross shares fell sharply this week after it announced a profit downgrade and plans to cut costs by 5% as part of a strategic review. Shares dropped 22% to close at $4.15.

Link Administration shares slumped 17% after the company said that superannuation changes proposed in the budget by the government from July next year could have a “material impact” on the number of funds it administers.

The company said it couldn’t yet quantify the effect the changes would have on revenue.

View More Articles By Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.



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