ASX up 0.34 per cent, consumer stocks best | Ralph-Lauren

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Australia’s share market was slightly higher and most sectors rose after the therapeutic goods regulator approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for Australians.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 23.5 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 6823.9 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 28.7 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 7107.6.

The consumer sectors were faring best and both were almost one per cent higher.

Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, Kmart and other retail outlets, hit a record $54.40, then eased to be better by 1.74 per cent to $54.34.

The big sectors, financials and materials, had gains of 0.39 per cent and 0.44 per cent respectively.

US markets closed mixed on Friday and only the Nasdaq was higher.

The US markets’ moves followed Intel and IBM closing lower after their quarterly results.

In Australia on Monday, the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has been provisionally approved for use and the first jabs are set for late next month.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has cleared the vaccine for people aged 16 and over after it met strict standards around safety, quality and efficacy.

Two doses at least 21 days apart will be required. Aged care and disability residents and workers, frontline healthcare staff, as well as quarantine and border employees will be at the front of the queue.

Australia enjoyed its fourth-highest goods trade surplus on record in December, with exports jumping 16 per cent in the month.

Preliminary international trade figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Australia recorded a $9 billion goods trade surplus in December, up from $7.4 billion in November.

Imports from China fell by $641 million or seven per cent, while exports increased by $2.2 billion or 21 per cent.

On the ASX, electric battery researcher Novonix fared best of the large stocks and was 7.88 per cent higher to $3.01.

The company last week said a subsidiary won a $US5.57 million US government grant to better produce lithium-ion batteries.

It also hired a professor working with electric vehicle maker Tesla.

Ampol said it had completed its $300 million off-market share buy-back, which amounted to 4.6 per cent of its issued capital.

The company bought 11.4 million shares for $26.34 each, a discount of 14 per cent on the market price of the time of $30.62.

Shares were down 4.65 per cent to $29.32.

Nickel Mines, which works mostly in Indonesia, said nickel production for its December quarter rose 11.2 per cent on the September quarter.

The group also improved earnings from the September quarter by 45.6 per cent to $71.6 million.

Shares were higher by 4.63 per cent to $1.35.

In mining, BHP rose 0.8 per cent to $46.50, Fortescue gained 3.61 per cent to $25.20 and Rio Tinto climbed 1.19 per cent to $120.75.

In banking, the big four were all half a per cent higher.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.20 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 77.43 US cents at Friday’s close.



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