Most Asia Pacific stocks edged higher on Wednesday amid concerns about the Delta variant. Australia’s ASX 200 index advanced more than 1.17% amid a decline in retail sales for June. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index edged higher after strong exports and imports numbers were released earlier on. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index inched lower as Chinese mainland stocks, the Shanghai Composite, and Shenzhen Component inched higher.
Australia’s Economic Outlook
The ASX 200 index inched higher despite a decline in Australia’s retail sales for June. According to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian retail turnover for June 2021 slipped 1.8%. However, the turnover rose 2.9% compared to June 2020.
Victoria led the falls by 3.5%. This was due to the impact of the coronavirus restrictions. Queensland also declined 1.5% due to stay-at-home restrictions as well as limited interstate mobility.
All industries less food retailing took a 1.5% dive in June 2021. Restaurants, cafes, takeaway food services, and clothing retailing reported the largest declines.
Australia has seen a jump in Covid-19 cases despite lockdown restrictions. The cases have been increasing as the government struggles to achieve successful vaccination rollouts. Australia’s two largest states recorded the sharpest increase in new cases.
New South Wales state recorded 110 new cases up from 78 the previous day. Victoria state reported 22 new cases which was the highest number of cases since the outbreak began.
All eyes have now shifted to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The RBA will release its monetary policy statement on Thursday. The NAB Quarterly Business Confidence will also be released on the same day.
ASX 200 Movers
Pilbara Minerals Limited was the best performer in the ASX 200 index. The Lithium mining company gained 5.84% in its share price to $1.54. Most Lithium shares were on the rise on Wednesday after an improvement in risk sentiment.
CIMIC Group Limited inched higher on Wednesday. The building company gained 4.58% in its stock earnings after reporting a strong uptick in its revenue for the first half of the fiscal year 2021. Compared to last year, the company’s revenue jumped 10.6% to $7.1 billion.
Unibail Rodamco Westfield was also among the top performers in the index. The commercial real estate company gained 4.55% in its stock prices.
Altium Limited led the laggards in the index. The software company lost 4.43% in its stock earnings. Autodesk announced the termination of its discussions to acquire Altium Limited.
HUB24 Limited fell 4.13% on Wednesday despite reporting strong growth in the first half of FY2021.