ASX rallies into Christmas break

The ASX ended the last session before the Christmas break on an upbeat note, with traders choosing to pick up miners and banks ahead of the holiday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 9 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6069 while the broader All Ordinaries rose 11 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6167 and the n dollar reached US77.15??.

For the week, the benchmark gained 1.2 per cent.

The ASX will be closed on Monday and Tuesday next week, reopening on Wednesday for a holiday-shortened week of trading.

Back with Friday’s trading action and CBA shares climbed 0.7 per cent to $80.39, while Westpac rose 0.3 per cent to $31.28.

BHP shares pushed above $29 for the first time since June 1, 2015 before closing up 0.9 per cent at $29.10

Investors appeared unperturbed by the news that BHP, along with partner Vale, has paid out more money for the Samarco iron ore business in Brazil in the form of both loans and cash contributions.

The mining sector had a good week, buoyed by sustained strength in commodity prices, with oil copper and nickel all notably higher, and the sector climbed around 4.5 per cent.

Lithium miners were in favour over the week, with Orocobre up almost 20 per cent and Lynas Corp higher by 17.9 per cent. Mineral Resources rose 14 per cent and Western Areas climbed 9.5 per cent.

However, Aconex was the standout advancer for the week, with the company’s shares ending up 45.8 per cent following a takeover bid for the construction software firm from US tech giant Oracle.

On the downside, Retail Food Group lost 19.30 per cent and Aurizon Holdings declined 8.5 per cent during the five-day period.

Friday’s movers included Village Roadshow, which rose 0.3 per cent to $3.91 after telling investors it has sold its Gold Coast theme parks sites home to Movie World and Wet’n’Wild to super fund LGIAsuper for $100 million.

MJH Group, the nation’s sixth-biggest home builder, has upped its stake in eighth-ranked Simonds Group to just under the 20 per cent takeover threshold, with the news sending Simonds shares surging up 20 per cent to 36?? on Friday.

Listed electronics retailer Kogan老域名购买 was the best performing stock on the ASX All Ordinaries index in 2017, with an annual gain of more than 300 per cent.

Shares in Kogan started the year at $1.35 – a discount to their July 2016 listing price of $1.80 after the company struggled to gain traction following an opening day fall in July last year. Since then, the company’s share price has steadily risen as it consistently beat earnings benchmarks throughout the year. It ended Friday’s session up 4.7 per cent to $6.20. Chart of the week

The headwind of falling commodity prices became a tailwind in 2017 when commodity prices reflated the economy, HSBC finds. Nominal GDP, which averaged 7 per cent in the first 12 years of the century, slowed to 3.3 per cent a year between 2012 and 2016. Although real GDP still grew at around trend pace, “the economy felt soggy”, chief economist Paul Bloxham observes, because we still live in a nominal world. Mr Bloxham predicts the household sector will be the story of 2018, when he is counting on the beginning of a slow tightening cycle from the Reserve Bank. The battler

The n dollar had a strong 2017, which was more so a story of a weak US dollar which BNY Mellon Markets says has “underperformed given the FOMC is in the middle of a tightening cycle”. The US targets three hikes next year, which the market has not fully factored in. “An alternative argument is that concerns are growing about the outlook for the US economy post 2018,” BNY Mellon suggests, but even then it doubts any material concerns about growth can be mounted in the short term. In January, the US dollar basket hit its highest level since 2002 and has fallen almost 10 per cent since. Oil is well

Crude oil prices were supported by evidence of a large drawdown in US inventories which buoyed traders, ANZ says. Prices recovered after starting the session weaker on reports that repairs to the Forties pipeline, one of the most critical for UK North Sea oil production, were coming along better than expected. The operator, Ineos, now expects to restart operations in early January after a crack in the piece of infrastructure forced a shutdown that sent prices rallying. Brent crude was little changed by late on Friday, at $US64.87 a barrel. Clydesdale challenge

Clydesdale Bank shares were weaker upon reports that the UK-based lender and its former parent National Bank are being targeted in a lawsuit seeking compensation on behalf of thousands of small business customers in the UK. ASX-listed Clydesdale fell almost 2 per cent to $5.79. The legal challenge is focused on interest rate hedging products known as tailored business loans; Clydesdale intends to defend the allegations. Stock watch: Hotel Property Investments

Hotel Property Investments has continued its 15.4 per cent year-to-date rally climbing to a peak of $3.37 a share on Friday. The company announced an interim dividend of 9.8?? a share and reiterated its guidance for total distributions of 19.6?? in 2017-18. The rental outlook is favourable with annual increases in contract of 4 per cent across 43 properties, Morningstar estimates. The company is benefiting from the recent rise in demand for freehold pubs as well as solid population growth in Queensland, both of which are long-term tailwinds. The $500 million group is expected to remain comfortable but any changes to state gambling and liquor laws would pose a risk.