ASX200 up as Trump announces possible trade tariff exemptions for “partners & allies”

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The Australian share market has opened marginally higher, with the S&P/ASX200 index up 0.1 per cent after the first half-hour of trade on Friday. 

This comes after US indexes oscillated on Wall Street before President Donald Trump appeared to soften his stance on trade tariffs and thereby easing trade war fears that had the market on edge for a week.

In the US, stocks were drifting between positive and negative territory before President Trump announced import tariffs on steel and aluminium, but said Canada and Mexico would be exempt and that other countries could apply for exemptions.

CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said investors had appeared to take comfort in the enlightenment around the tariffs and the fact there there will be exemptions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.38 per cent to close at 24,895.21, the S&P 500 gained 0.45 per cent to 2,738.97 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.42 per cent to 7,427.95.

“At this stage we have a very modest gain and that reflects the balance of action we saw overnight,” Mr McCarthy told AAP.

“The moves to exempt does suggest that the White House is interested in solutions as much as imposing barriers.”

Australia appears to be in a good position to avoid the new 25 per cent tariffs on steel imported into the US and 10 per cent on aluminium after President Trump indicated a path would be created for “great partners and military allies” to sidestep the hefty tariffs.

Mr McCarthy said while the greater detail around the reality of the tariffs had provided the market with some comfort, falls in commodities overnight were likely to weigh on the market on Friday.

Locally, energy stocks were the worse off after oil prices declined, heading for a second straight weekly drop on a stronger US dollar.

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) was down 0.2 per cent to $28.92, Santos Ltd (ASX:STO) fell 0.6 per cent to $4.88 and Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) declined 1.1 per cent to $7.11.

Mining stocks also suffered with BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) trading between 0.4 per cent and 0.8 per cent lower.

Oz Minerals Limited (ASX:OZL) shares sank 1.7 per cent to $9.51 after the copper miner said it is considering renewable energy options for its current and future assets in a bid to combat ongoing pressures from soaring electricity prices.

Consumer staple stocks were flat with Myer Holdings Ltd (ASX:MYR) shares dragging on the index, down 2.2 per cent to 44.5 cents, after the struggling department store was removed from the benchmark ASX200 index.

But the banking sector helped buoy the market, while technology stocks such as ComputerShare Limited (ASX:CPU), Xero FPO (ASX:XRO) and REA Group Limited (ASX:REA) also supported gains on the index.

Meanwhile the Australian dollar has recovered slightly from overnight lows but is still down against its US counterpart on the back of a hit to commodity markets.

At 1030 AEDT, the local currency was worth 77.89 US cents, down from 78.26 US cents on Thursday.

ON THE ASX AT 1030 AEDT:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 4.8 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,947.7 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 5.9 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,052.5 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up eight points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,947 points

* National turnover was 638.4 million securities traded worth $522.6 million

By Simone Ziaziaris, AAP 

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