A major sell-off in the gold sector has led the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) lower today, with the broader market falling around 0.5% mid-way through the session.
Weakness in the telecommunications and industrials sectors is also weighing the market down, with some support coming from the financial and information technology sectors.
Four shares that have found favour with investors today, include:
QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE)
Shares of QBE have gained 2.8% today to $9.68 on the expectation that US interest rates will rise sooner rather than later . The insurer holds a significant amount of its investment portfolio in short-term bonds that have struggled to generate a decent return in the current low yield environment. Once yields start to rise as a result of higher US interest rates, it is expected that QBE’s investment portfolio will deliver significantly better returns.
Computershare Limited (ASX: CPU)
Shares of Computershare have surged around 2.4% today to $10.72, also on the back of expectations it will benefit from higher US interest rates. The company earns a significant portion of its earnings from margin income – interest earned on funds that are held prior to making dividend payments. Like QBE, Computershare has been unable to generate much of a return on these funds, which currently average around US$15.7 billion. Unsurprisingly, a small increase in interest rates will have a disproportionately larger impact on Computershare’s overall profits.
Bapcor Ltd (ASX: BAP)
Shares of Bapcor had climbed more than 2.6% today to $6.30 after announcing the acquisition of a specialist wholesale diesel business for $17 million. This follows on from lasts week’s announcement that it would look to expand into New Zealand through a NZ$322 million acquisition. Although today’s acquisition is small in comparison, it nevertheless provides Bapcor with an additional revenue stream from a specialised sector of the automotive wholesale market. Shares are currently up 2% at $6.22.
Australian Agricultural Company Ltd (ASX: AAC)
Shares of Australian Agricultural have risen 1.0% today to $1.87 after the company launched two premium beef brands in Singapore overnight. Investors are clearly happy with the move, which is expected to help the beef producer grab a larger slice of the global premium beef market and also help the company reach its strategic vision of “transforming into a vertically integrated global branded beef company“. Australian Agricultural has been one of the top-performing shares this year, rising more than 40% for the year-to-date.
Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Bapcor. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.