ASX jumps despite light trading conditions

Although trading has remained light today due to Victoria’s Melbourne Cup public holiday, the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has realised a gain of 41.7 points, or 0.76%, boosted by strong performances from materials stocks and the big four banks.

Shares in BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) have appreciated by 1% and 1.6% respectively whilst Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) has gained an impressive 3.8%.

Meanwhile, the major banks have recovered some of yesterday’s losses with ANZ (ASX: ANZ), NAB (ASX: NAB) and Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) increasing 0.9%, 0.7% and 1%. Westpac (ASX: WBC) has also gained 0.6% after falling 1.2% yesterday, despite having announced an 8% increase in annual profit and a special dividend.

Whilst Macquarie Private Wealth division director Martin Lakos sees “speed bumps” for the market next year from US debt ceiling negotiations and an eventual tapering of the Federal Reserve’s bond buying program, he also expects equities to remain strong in the lead up to Christmas.

The focus of the market for the afternoon will turn to the Reserve Bank’s interest rate decision. Whilst some analysts have speculated that they could decide to cut interest rates following slightly dovish comments from Glenn Stevens last week, that scenario remains unlikely and they should be kept at their current level of 2.5%.

Foolish takeaway

Although the ASX 200 is currently sitting at its highest level in five years at 5400 points, it’s not too late to buy shares (although, it is more difficult to find a bargain, if you don’t know where to look).

Send your portfolio soaring

If you are looking for some stock ideas to add to your portfolio today, look no further than our #1 dividend-paying stock. Discover The Motley Fool's favourite income idea for 2013-2014 in our brand-new, FREE research report, including a full investment analysis! Simply click here for your FREE copy of "The Motley Fool's Top Dividend Stock for 2013-2014."

Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

The 5 mining stocks we’re recommending in 2019…

For decades, Australian mining companies have minted money for individual investors like you and me. But if you believe the pundits and talking heads on TV, those days are long gone. Finito! Behind us forever…

We say nothing could be further from the truth. To earn the really massive returns, you’ve got to fish where others aren’t fishing—and the mining sector could be primed for a resurgence. That’s why top Motley Fool analysts just revealed their exciting new research on 5 ASX miners they believe could help you profit in 2019 and beyond…


The best way we see to play the global zinc shortage… Our #1 favourite large-cap miner (hint: it’s not BHP)… one early-stage gold miner we think could hit the motherlode… Plus two more surprising companies you probably haven’t heard of yet!

For free access to our brand-new research, simply click here or the link below. But be warned, this research is available free for a limited time only, and we reserve the right to withdraw it at any time.

Click here for your FREE report!