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  • Headline indices of the Australian financial market were higher after recouping initial losses on Friday, 22 February 2019, on reports that U.S. and Chinese negotiators were beginning to outline a deal to end a long-running trade spat, with shares in financials leading rally. However, market gains capped on weakness in resources players after Chinas ban on coal imports from Australia and raised broader concerns about relations between Canberra and Beijing. Around late afternoon, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index advanced 27.25 points, or 0.44%, at 6,166.50 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 27.28 points, or 0.44%, at 6,241.90.

    U.S. and Chinese negotiators have started to iron out specific details of a possible trade deal. The report said agreements in principle are being drawn up in six key areas: forced technology transfers and cyber theft, intellectual-property rights, services, currency, agriculture and nontariff barriers to trade. Negotiators have continued talks in Washington this week, following a round of discussions last week in Beijing. President Donald Trump earlier said that a March 1 deadline isnt a “magical” date, which investors took as a sign that tariffs on imports of Chinese goods may not automatically rise next month if progress continues toward a deal.

    Shares of financials performed strongly, with countrys “Big Four” banks - Commonwealth Bank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corp - rose between 0.4% and 1%.

    Shares of major miners were mostly higher. BHP Group added 0.2% and Rio Tinto rose almost 1%, while Fortescue Metals was down 0.3%.

    Shares of resources fell after report that customs at Chinas Dalian port banned imports of Australian coal and would cap overall coal imports from all sources. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday that customs were inspecting and testing coal imports for safety and quality, and the move was “completely normal”. Whitehaven Coal dropped as much as 5%, New Hope Corp fell about 5%, and Stanmore Coal fell 8.9%. Woodside Petroleum was down 4% as the stock trades ex-dividend.

    Among individual stocks, Webjet jumped 12.5%, on following robust results on Thursday, which saw JP Morgan raise online travel booking company rating and price target on the stock.

    Regis Healthcare shares fell more than 7% after aged care providers reported a more than 12% decline in first-half profit and said its chief executive Ross Johnston will step down from his role in September. shares lost almost 2% after The online retailers reported a more than 8% fall in first-half profit despite higher revenues and also raised its interim dividend.

    CURRENCY: The Australian dollar has recovered after falling against the U.S. dollar following news about a ban on Australian coal by a major Chinese port. However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told there was no Chinese ban on Australian coal. The Aussie currency was quoted at $0.7099, up from $0.7090 on Thursday.

    OFFSHORE MARKET NEWS: US stock market closed down on Thursday, pressured by disappointing readings on the state of the U.S. and European economies which suggest further slowing in global growth. However, fears about a world-wide slowdown were somewhat tempered by reports that U.S. and Chinese negotiators were beginning to outline a deal to end a long-running trade spat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 103.81 points, or 0.4%, to 25,850.63 and the S&P 500 shed 9.82 points, or 0.4%, to 2,774.88, while the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 29.36 points, or 0.4%, to 7,459.71.

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