Most Asian Pacific stocks nudged higher on Wednesday despite the surge in coronavirus infections tied to the highly contagious Delta variant. Australia’s ASX 200 index advanced 24 points after the release of its Retail sales data for the second quarter.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1.53% after the release of China’s Composite and Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for July. Mainland Chinese stocks, Shanghai Composite and Shenzhen Component also went up. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index slipped despite the country’s positive Services PMI for July.
Australia’s Economic Outlook
Australia’s retail sales data was published after RBA’s interest rate decision for August. According to the report published by the Reserve Bank of Australia, the board decided o maintain its interest rate at 0%. The board also kept its cash rate unchanged at 10 basis points.
The April 2024 Australian Government Board target was maintained at 0.1%. The rate of purchase for government securities is to continue at $5 billion per week until early September and $4 billion a week until mid-November.
The board promised to maintain highly accommodative monetary conditions to help in achieving the inflation target. inflation is expected to be 1.75% over 2022 and 2.25% over 2023. The country’s economy is expected to grow 4% over 2022 and around 2.5% over 2023.
The monthly retail sales for June dipped 1.8% remaining unchanged from the preliminary result of a 1.8% decline. June’s turnover in retail sales was heavily impacted by the stay-at-home orders in multiple states.
The largest declines were seen in cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services which fell 6%. Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing decreased by 9.5%.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), retail sales volume for the second quarter rose 0.8%. It was slightly weaker than the estimated 0.9%. This followed a 0.5% fall in the March quarter in 2021.
ASX 200 Performers
The best performer in the ASX 200 index was Omani Bridgeway Limited. The Australian financial company gained 7.26% after publishing its earnings for its fourth quarter. The company recorded $169 million in income in the final quarter, raising the full-year tally to $281 million.
Blackmores Limited is an Australian health supplements company. The company gained 4.13% in its stock earnings. With the rising coronavirus cases, most health companies have been making profits.
Pilbara Minerals Limited was also among the best performers in the index. The Lithium mining company gained 4.06% in its stock price. The company recently published a positive earnings report for the second quarter.
Chalice Mining Limited led the laggards in the ASX 200 index. The company’s stock earnings fell by 5.58% after surging on Tuesday.