ASX creeps higher in lacklustre week

Shares ended in positive territory on Friday with utility companies putting a bit of a spark into the benchmark at the end of a lacklustre week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 16 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5994 while the broader All Ordinaries climbed the same amount in points and percentage terms to 6077 on Friday.

The ASX floundered over the week, adding just four points, as two days of gains at the end of the week offset losses in the early part.

On Friday, Origin jumped 1.3 per cent to $9.13 and AGL jumped 1.5 per cent to $25.82 after both energy firms were upgraded to buy at Goldman. However, the ASX lost 2 per cent following a downgrade to sell at UBS.

The Australian dollar had a more active week, falling 1.3 per cent in response to disappointing GDP and trade data to hover around US75?? on Friday.

“With the RBA on hold for the next year or more and the Fed on track to hike in December with another four hikes next year the interest rate differential will continue to move against Australia which should result in further weakness in the Australian dollar,” said AMP Capital’s head of investments Shane Oliver.

In contrast, Australian shares are likely to continue to participate in the global share rally that has driven US markets to record highs, albeit remaining a relative laggard thanks to a more constrained earnings outlook, Mr Oliver said.

By sector, banks look “cheap” on a price to earnings ratio of 13, Deutsche Bank equity strategists said, but “earnings headwinds are on the rise and the Royal Commission will weigh on sentiment”.

The heavyweight listed banking sector, dominated by lenders CBA, Westpac, ANZ and NAB, fell 0.4 per cent over the week.

Resources “continue to offer the best combination of valuations and growth”, the Deutsche Bank strategists said, with valuations that match the overall market but with 20 per cent earnings growth forecast for this financial year.

Miners lost 0.9 per cent over the week after gyrations in the metal markets pulled the sector down. Volatility in commodity prices offset a boost to sentiment around the sector after broker Citi during the week turned positive on many of the big names.

Broker action was a theme all week, with Telstra climbing on Monday after an upgrade by Macquarie Bank following the company’s earnings revision which was released at the end of last week. The bank upgraded Telstra from neutral to outperform with a $3.70 price target. Telstra shares jumped 7.9 per cent over the week to end at $3.69.

Stock watch ASX Ltd

If the folks at ASX Ltd were hoping the buzz around blockchain would rub off on their stock, they would have been disappointed. After a getting a bit of a lift on Thursday to $57.33 a piece, the shares lost that ground and more on the week’s final session, ending off 2 per cent at $56.25 as analysts reacted in a cool way to the ASX’s announcement that it plans to replace CHESS with its blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, solution. “At this stage, this is little more than a technology replacement decision,” Citi analysts said, adding that “blockchain should boost revenue, but not for some time yet”. The broker has a “sell” rating on the stock, saying it looks expensive. MoversCrypto-craze

Bitcoin surged to dizzying new highs this week, and financial market uncertainty in China may account for some of the increased demand for the cryptocurrency, Amplifying Global FX Capital analyst Greg Gibbs said. “Chinese investors have developed an affinity for bitcoin, using it in recent years as a vehicle to move capital offshore,” Mr Gibbs said. The virtual currency could even be a budding safehaven in place of traditional store of value, gold, he said. Chinese debt

There are signs that China’s attempts to rein in leverage levels is bearing fruit. Total debt for almost 4000 non-financial firms listed on the mainland is now on average about the same size as earnings, down from 2.4 times a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Their operating profits can now cover over 18 times interest expense, a significant improvement from just 5 times in 2016. The improvement has been propelled by supply cuts, rebounding prices and a boom in global trade that have boosted profit growth. Waiting for Godot

An unexpected breakout in inflation is something analysts are worried could pour cold water over hot markets in the coming year. “Predicting a sustained recovery in US inflation to target over the past decade has been ill-fated,” ANZ economists noted. But 2017 “may yet prove to be a watershed year”. They point to the year’s strong global economic uplift, a tightening US labour market, and that US fiscal policy is “poised to become expansionary”. The ANZ team forecast that the Fed will raise rates by 75 bps next year, with the Fed funds rate reaching 2.5 per cent by mid-2019. Resilient lending

Home loan approvals beat market expectations in October, with surprising strength in investor lending. Housing finance worth a total of $32.5 billion was approved in October up 0.6 per cent, seasonally adjusted, on September. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data also showed investor loan approvals rose 1.6 per cent to $11.96 billion, while owner occupier approvals was flat at $20.55 billion. Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan said the data showed that housing finance approvals were holding up much better than expected despite a slowdown in auction clearance rates, prices and turnover.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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