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Microsoft and technology stocks boost Wall Street, Australian dollar hits US76.5c

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A Microsoft logo is seen on an office building in New York City in this July 28, 2015 file photo. Microsoft Corp announced more big cuts to its smartphone business on Wednesday. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

The local stock market normally takes its cue from foreign bourses, but ASX futures have fallen 21 points (at 7:00am AEST).

By business reporter David Chau, wires

On the other hand, the Australian dollar has surged to a six-week high of 76.5 US cents, gaining 1.1 per cent.

It also jumped to 57.4 British pence (+1.4pc), 65.4 euro cents (+0.8pc) and 84 Japanese yen (+1.4pc).

This was after the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released some stronger than expected figures for retail sales and company operating profits, which may provide a small boost to Australia’s GDP figures (which are out on Wednesday).

In the meantime, the Reserve Bank will decide on interest rates today, and it is almost certain it will keep rates on hold at the record low 1.5 per cent for the 20th consecutive month.

Also out today is the current account figures for the March quarter from the Australian Bureau of Statistics — which measures the different in value between Australia’s imports and exports.

The market is expecting net exports to contribute 0.5 per cent and a current account deficit of $9.95 billion.

Wall Street surges on tech rally
The Nasdaq jumped 0.7 per cent to 7,606 points, its new record closing figure.

The Dow Jones index also climbed 0.7 per cent to 24,814, while the S&P 500 rose by 0.5 per cent.

Apple shares rose to their highest-ever price (+0.8pc to $US191.83) after the company unveiled its latest operating system, iOS 12, at its annual developers conference on Monday (local time).

Microsoft was another standout, after its share price jumped 0.9 per cent to $US101.67.

This was after the tech giant announced it would take-over GitHub, a privately-held coding website, for $US7.5 billion in an all-stock deal.

The deal is a big bet on Azure — Microsoft’s fast-growing cloud business — as it will be able to lure more code developers who use GitHub and drive more business to Microsoft.

By pulling off its largest acquisition since the $US26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016, Microsoft gets a platform universally known by developers.

GitHub calls itself the world’s largest code host with more than 28 million developers using its platform.

The S&P technology (+0.8pc) and consumer sectors (+1.1pc) gave Wall Street its largest boost, while falling oil prices weighed on the energy sector (-0.9pc).

In the consumer space, Amazon was the strongest performer, after its shares lifted 1.5 per cent to a new record of $US1,665.27.

The New York Times

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