ASX leaps as mining, energy stocks shine, Jobless rate at 4%, AUS shares 0.6% higher at noon

Aussie equities move higher for its second straight day as mining and energy stocks remain in focus after a slow start to the week. The broad rally left financial stocks behind after investors continued to sell on the half year results from the Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ).

This comes after JP Morgan kicked off the earnings season on Wall St, leaving market participants assessing the impact of the first three months of the year as results came in below estimates. The chief executive officer Jamie Dimon noted that the bank is anticipating higher downside risk and the economy “due to high inflation, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine.”

Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ) is the worst performer trading over 5 per cent lower to $8.09 after the lender reported a first half net interest margin on a cash basis of 1.74 per cent versus 1.95 per cent year over year. Profit came in 38 per cent higher compared to the prior corresponding period, however, the gains were from one-off items which lifted its net interest income missing expectations.

BHP (ASX:BHP), the largest company on the index is trading 0.8 per cent higher contributing to the gains while Qantas’ (ASX:QAN) share price takes-off, up 7.1 per cent at $5.45 ahead of the easter long weekend and New Zealand reopening its borders to Australians. Supporting the runway was news from US airline Delta seeing strong demand for flights despite a spike in fuel prices.

Energy stocks continue to lift higher after the underlying commodity price gains for its second day with Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) up 2.1 per cent higher at $1.61 and Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) trading 1 per cent higher at $32.36.

Meanwhile, Uniti (ASX:UWL) shares are on the move by 3 per cent to $4.96 after it agreed to Morrison and Brookfield’s sweetened $3.6 billion takeover offer.

The local bourse shrugged off the jobs report for March with the unemployment standing at 4 per cent unchanged from February’s 13.5 year low versus the 3.9 per cent that was expected. The Aussie three-year bond yields hit a one-week low of 2.37 per cent amid this as hawks were expecting the report to cement the central bank’s stance to hike interest rates. This follows after central banks in New Zealand and Canada increased their cash rates by half a point this week which is what market participants expect the Federal Reserve will also do next month.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.6 per cent or 41.80 points higher at 7520.80.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 36 points.

Broker moves

Barrenjoey rates Incitec (ASX:IPL) as overweight with a price target of $4.50 and Orica (ASX:ORI) as neutral with a price target of $16. Shares in Incitec (ASX:IPL) are trading 0.9 per cent higher at $4 while shares in Orica (ASX:ORI) are up 0.7 per cent at $16.24.

Citi lowers Iluka’s (ASX:ILU) rating to a sell, shares are trading 0.8 per cent lower at $12.44.

Morningstar has cut National Australia Bank’s (ASX:NAB) rating to a sell from hold. Shares are trading 0.5 per cent lower to $32.91.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is utilities, up 1.2 per cent. The worst-performing sector is financials, down 0.1 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN), trading 5.7 per cent higher at $5.38. It is followed by shares in Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) and Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ), trading 5.2 per cent lower at $8.09. It is followed by shares in Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) and EML Payments (ASX:EML).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1979.15 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.2 per cent lower at US$151.40 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 3.1 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.60 US cents.