The Australian equity market closed higher on Friday, 14 June 2019, taking its cue from Wall Street in overnight trading, overnight on hopes the Federal Reserve will ease monetary policy soon. Market gains were, however, limited on renewed geopolitical tension concerns between US-Iran following two oil tankers being attacked near the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman the previous day. At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inclined 11.60 points, or 0.18%, at 6,554 points, while the broader All Ordinaries added 14.54 points, or 0.22%, at 6,633.64. For the week, the S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.7%, while the broader All Ordinaries advanced 1.7%.
The Fed's June 18-19 meeting will give investors an opportunity to see if the Fed's monetary policy stance is in sync with growing number of economists expect a Fed rate cut this year but the majority still expect it to stay on hold.
Energy stocks inclined after attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman stoked concerns of reduced crude flows through one of the world's key shipping routes. Brent crude futures edged up 0.2% to $61.43 per barrel after rallying 2.3% the previous day. Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search each added as much as 2.6%.
Mining stocks benefited, with Fortescue Metals (FMG) was the standout, advancing 4.7% after China's iron ore prices rose to a new high in the previous session on demand concerns, while hopes of Beijing introducing further stimulus to shore up the economy also supported the commodity. Diversified miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto climbed 1.9% and 3.1%, respectively.
Financial markets also remain on edge ahead of a possible meeting between U.S. and Chinese leaders at the G20 summit in Japan later this month, as trade tensions between the world's biggest economies showed no signs of letting up.
Vocus shares rose 14.1% to $4.36 after AGL Energy made a $3 billion takeover bid for telecommunications firm, just a week after Swedish private equity firm EQT withdrew its takeover bid. The proposal would see AGL buy Vocus shares at $4.85 each as part of a deal which would value it 27% higher than its market capitalisation.
CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar was lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6897, seeing declines for much of the week from earlier levels above $0.700.The Aussie has lost 1.4% this week, during which soft domestic labour data added to expectations of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia.