Miners Thrive on Commodity Prices, ASX Rising

Investors pushed the Australian equity market from the bottom up and shrugged off fears of economic sanctions against Russia that plagued Wall Street.

The ASX turned positive shortly before 1200 AEDT as the commodities and energy categories each rose 2%.

Commodity prices have surged since Russia invaded Ukraine. Traders are worried about supply difficulties. Brent crude oil last traded at US$104.97 a barrel.

The equity market was mixed, however, with the heavyweight financials category losing nearly one percent.

The largest losses were recorded in consumer discretionary, telecommunications and real estate. Each fell by one percent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 14.8 points, or 0.20%, to 7111.3 points at 1200 AEDT.

The All Ordinaries Index rose 12.8 points, or 0.17%, to 7,398.1 points.

In the United States, President Joe Biden will soon reveal more about his plans to fight Russia and inflation.

Mr Biden will deliver his State of the Union address and is expected to pressure Russia to withdraw from Ukraine or be economically isolated.

It will also call for more cars and semiconductors to be made in the United States. This would reduce the risk of supply chain difficulties forcing prices and inflation higher.

In Australia, the economy rebounded from the impact of last year’s delta lockdowns.

National accounts for the December quarter showed the economy grew 3.4%, rebounding from a 1.9% contraction in the September quarter.

Annual growth was 4.2%.

On the ASX, Australian lithium producer Core Lithium will supply electric car maker Tesla under a four-year deal.

Core will supply 110,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate, used to make lithium batteries in electric cars, from its Finniss project near Darwin.

Core rose 15% to 95 cents.

Sigma Healthcare raised its full-year profit forecast after strong demand for rapid antigen test kits.

Underlying earnings for the 12 months to January are expected to be 10-15% higher than the prior period.

Sigma is likely to declare a statutory loss of between $5 million and $10 million due to an accounting change.

Sigma rose 3% to 51 cents.

Miners soared as prices for raw materials, including iron ore, soared.

BHP and Fortescue each rose 3% to $48.11 and $18.42 respectively, while Rio Tinto gained 4% to $122.79.

Mineral Resources Chairman Peter Wade has retired from the Board of Directors after 23 years with the company. Board member James McClements will assume the role.

Mineral Resources rose nearly 1% to $45.76.

Most banks were down. ANZ fared the worst of the big four and fell one percent to $25.86.

The Commonwealth Bank was the only one in the top group. It was up less than half a percent to $95.03.

Elsewhere, Beach Energy is selling eight Cooper Basin buildings to Bass Oil for $650,000.

Bass Oil raised $1.2 million through a share sale to buy the South Australian assets.

The range rose nearly 2% to $1.57. The low remained unchanged at 0.002 cents.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.64 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher than 72.59 US cents at Tuesday’s close.

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