(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s share market moved little for a third consecutive session, but consumer price data due in the US threatens to reignite inflation fears and send markets downwards.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 2.9 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6976.9 on Tuesday.
The index rose to a session high of 6998 early, as investors tested the 7000 level, which the ASX200 briefly rose above last week.
In the last hour of trade, the index fell to a session low of 6962.9.
However, a late upswing helped investors avoid losses for a third consecutive session.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 5.8 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7231.
The top sector was information technology, which gained 2.16 per cent. The heavyweight financial sector rose 0.28 per cent.
Losing sectors included energy and materials, which declined 0.72 and 0.67 per cent respectively.
Investors have made the ASX200 move only slightly since Thursday when the index closed at its highest level (6998.8) since February last year.
Burman Invest chief investment officer Julia Lee said investors usually took time to be comfortable about markets rising above milestone figures.
A greater test of nerves could come in the US consumer price data for March.
Investors are betting prices will increase due to increased fiscal and monetary stimulus.
“If we see elevated inflation, that increases the chance banks will need to raise interest rates,” Ms Lee said.
“We’ll see how the bond market reacts. Rising bond yields will have a negative short-term impact on equities.”
US markets closed a little lower in the lead-up to the figures, and earnings season.
Australia had good economic news on Tuesday.
The National Australia Bank monthly business survey showed businesses conditions were good in March, despite the expiry of the JobKeeper wage subsidy.
The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index jumped 5.9 per cent, reaching its highest level since September 2019.
On the ASX, there were big moves for buy now, pay later stocks.
Zip surged by 16.95 per cent to $9.73 after providing its third-quarter figures.
The company claimed record quarterly sales of $114.4 million, an 80 per cent increase on the same quarter last year.
The US business, called Quadpay, improved sales by 188 per cent to $54.4 million.
Splitit, which targets people making expensive purchases, said bank and credit card provider UnionPay would allow customers to pay using Splitit.
UnionPay’s network is used by 55 million businesses, including about 23 million in China.
Splitit shares were up 8.33 per cent to 84 cents.
Fund manager Blackstone has given itself more chance to pull out of its bid for Crown Resorts, should two royal commissions make trouble for the gaming group.
Blackstone, which in March offered to buy all shares for $11.85 each, has set out damaging possibilities that must not occur before a second court hearing for its bid.
Royal commissions are under way in Victoria and Western Australia after a NSW inquiry found Crown allowed money laundering.
Shares were down 0.17 per cent to $12.07.
Ratings agency Fitch improved its credit rating for ANZ and Westpac from negative to stable.
The agency said this reflected improved economic prospects.
ANZ was up 0.1 per cent to $28.90 and Westpac was higher by 0.04 per cent to $25.31.
In mining, Rio Tinto had the biggest loss of the big three. It slumped 1.18 per cent to $113.53.
On Wednesday, the monthly Westpac-Melbourne consumer sentiment survey is due.
The Australian dollar was buying 76.06 US cents at 1719 AEST, lower from 76.12 US cents at Monday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 2.9 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6976.9 on Tuesday.
* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 5.8 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7231.
* At 1719 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was down by three points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6949.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 76.06 US cents, from 76.12 cents on Monday
* 83.35 Japanese yen, from 83.44 yen
* 63.95 Euro cents, from 64.09 cents
* 55.33 British pence, from 55.50 pence
* 108.41 NZ cents, from 108.28 cents.