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Markets Live: Origin, AGL power up ASX

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Speaking of the Aussie, improving global growth and synchronised interest rate hikes could drive the Australian dollar as high as 90 US cents next year, an economist says.After a lacklustre 2017 for the local currency, a looming shift in global monetary policy is likely to support gains for the Aussie dollar, HSBC chief economist Australia and New Zealand Paul Bloxham said.“Looking into 2018, we see the Australia dollar climbing, as we expect it to get support from a lift in global growth, which is expected to support commodity prices, and we expect the RBA to lift the cash rate in 2018,” Mr Bloxham said.Low financial market volatility has meant the Australian dollar has traded within a narrow nine-cent range in 2017, beginning the year at 72 US cents and hitting 81 US cents in September on heightened market expectations of an RBA interest rate rise.The currency has since fallen back against a rejuvenated greenback, trading at around 75.5 US cents.Mr Bloxham said currencies tend to lift ahead of rate hikes, and predicts a similar force to be at work in 2018.“We expect the Australian dollar to head towards 90 US cents,” Mr Bloxham said.What the RBA does is less important, initially, than what the market expects will happen to interest rates, AxiTrader chief market strategist Greg McKenna said.Currency markets will anticipate and price in higher rates should global and Australian economic conditions continue to improve, he said.“If the economy evolves the way the RBA says, and the global backdrop suggests, this could lead to a material repricing of interest rate expectations,” Mr McKenna said.Read more.The ASX started on an upbeat note on Friday, with the benchmark getting a lift from some gains in the banking sector and Origin and AGL. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 14 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 5992 while the All Ordinaries advanced by the same point and percentage amounts to 6075. The Australian dollar was at US75.13 cents, remaining under pressure ahead of key US jobs data tonight. Aristocrat Leisure shares gained 1 per cent and Boral rose 1.1 per cent. Banks were on the move as well. with CBA and Westpac up 0.6 per cent each and NAB up 0.3 per cent, Origin jumped 2.7 per cent and AGL jumped 3.2 per cent  after both energy firms were upgraded to buy at Goldman.On the downside, ASX lost 2 per cent following a downgrade to sell at UBS. Computershare dropped 1.1 per cent and carsales.com fell 1.3 per cent. Miners were a touch weaker as well, with Rio TInto losing 0.4 per cent.  Bitcoin’s poised to go legit. Is it really ready?Three days before Cboe Global Markets, one of the world’s biggest regulated exchanges, debuts futures on the cryptocurrency, it had one of its wildest sessions ever.On Coinbase’s GDAX exchange, prices zoomed up to almost $US20,000 ($26,600) from $US16,000 in only about 90 minutes – then crashed back down. The largest digital currency is still up more than 16-fold this year.Coinbase, one of the largest US online exchanges used by investors, temporarily crashed and continued to suffer from service delays.Trezor, a wallet service, tweeted that it’s having “minor issues” with its servers, while Bitfinex, the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, said on Twitter that it has been under a denial of service attack for several days and that it recently got worse.Cboe and CME Group last week got permission to offer bitcoin futures. CME’s products launch December 18.The entrance of Cboe and CME is a watershed for bitcoin because many professional investors have been unwilling to do business on the unregulated platforms where bitcoin currently trades. Cboe and CME are regulated, potentially assuaging those concerns.Some big traders had just warned about the impending introduction. On Wednesday, the Futures Industry Association – a group of major banks, brokers and traders – said the contracts were rushed without enough consideration of the risks.SPONSORED POSTHere’s IG’s John Kicklighter on the US dollar moves ahead of that key jobs data due out later: The US dollar is trading at two-week highs and is up for the fourth day ahead of US non-farm payrolls that are released today. Expectations are for 195k thousand jobs added compared to +261k last month.The US economy’s bright spot of late has been consumer confidence, which is coming at a good time as retailers tend to leverage the seasonal festivities as a reason to encourage consumers to over-spend.The US dollar has also benefited from sluggishness in commodity currencies as a whole, which can look to a handful of reasons why buyers are failing to prop up the prices.The Australian dollar is finishing a week that was not kind to Australian dollar bulls and touched six-month lows. After opening the week with Reserve Bank of Australia chief Philip Lowe declaring there was no rush to raise rates, the economic data oscillated lower finishing with a trade balance that missed economists’ expectations.Australian exports fell 3 per cent from a month earlier while Imports rose 2 per cent from a month earlier and the September trade balance was revised to A$1.6b surplus from originally the reported an A$1.75b surplus.Read more hereAll the overnight market action in numbers:SPI futures up 21 points or 0.4% to 6002AUD -0.7% to 75.12 US centsOn Wall St: Dow +0.3%, S&P 500 +0.3%, Nasdaq +0.5%In New York, BHP -0.2% Rio -0.8%In Europe: Stoxx 50 +0.3%, FTSE -0.4%, CAC +0.2%, DAX +0.4%Spot gold -0.9% to $US1252.17 an ounceBrent crude +1.5% to $US62.13 a barrelUS oil +1.3% to $US56.69 a barrelIron ore -5.3% to $US65.70 a tonneDalian iron ore -2.9% to 497.5 yuanSteaming coal +0.15 to $US97.25LME aluminium -0.4% to $US2010 a tonneLME copper +0.2% to $US6564 a tonne10-year bond yield: US 2.35%, Germany 0.29%, Australia 2.51%On the economic agenda today:Housing finance, number of home loans, value of investor expectationsChina trade November, CPI November, PPI NovemberJapan third quarter GDPUS non-farm payrolls NovemberUnemployment rate NovemberUniversity of Michigan consumer sentiment DecemberStocks to watch:AGL Energy upgraded to buy at GoldmanASX downgraded to sell at UBSGalaxy Resources raised to accumulate at HartleysNavitas downgraded to hold at Blue OceanOrigin Energy upgraded to buy at GoldmanSigma Healthcare downgraded to hold at MorningstarUS stocks edged higher overnight as gains in Apple and Alphabet lifted tech stocks.The main focus for US investors on Friday will be jobs data, with TD Securities expecting nonfarm payrolls to advance by 175,000 in November.“Data on persons not at work due to bad weather suggest that hurricane impacts should have faded by this month, allowing payrolls to print closer to their current trend in the 150-200k range,” the broker said. “Upward revisions to the prior two months are also likely.”In European trading, shares edged up on Thursday as financial and tech stocks recovered, while troubled furniture retailer Steinhoff sank further, stung by an accounting scandal.Steinhoff shareholders have wiped more than $US12 billion off its value, in a dramatic fall from grace for the South African retailer.Euro zone stocks once again performed better than the broader pan-European STOXX 600 index as UK stocks slipped.Euro zone banks jumped 1.1 per cent, recovering after a risk-off mood dented financials in the previous session.Good morning and welcome to the Markets Live blog for Friday.Your editors today are Sarah Turner and Patrick Commins.This blog is not intended as investment advice.Fairfax Media with wires. 

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