• The ASX closed slightly higher on Monday
  • Lithium stocks led the bourse today
  • Queensland is the best performing economy in Australia, says Commsec

 

The ASX limped to a flat close despite futures tracking higher before the opening bell.

At the close of Monday, the benchmark ASX 200 finished just 0.1% higher.

Overnight, Nasdaq and Big Tech led a 2% rally in New York as investors praised Google’s decision to cut 12,000 staff, viewing it as a positive move that could steady profit margins.

Local investors however were a bit more cautious as most of Asia are on lunar new year holidays this week, causing sparse trading activities in many markets.

Aussie investors are also cautiously awaiting Wednesday’s CPI data from the ABS.

The recent monthly inflation indicator for November signalled a 7.3% increase year-over-year, which means the quarterly inflation could top 8% for Q4.

“This reading may just be one of the most important inflation reports Australia has received in its current cycle,” said Josh Gilbert, market analyst at eToro.

“With the RBA pivoting late in 2022, the next step may well be a pause, but the RBA will undoubtedly have a job on its hands to navigate a soft landing if inflation does come in line with expectations at 8%,” he added.

On top of that, Gilbert argues that employment unexpectedly fell last month, giving the RBA more ammunition to leave the cash rate unchanged next month.

Meanwhile, lithium stocks caught a bid today with major players like Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) jumping 6%.

Core Lithium (ASX:CXO) and Allkem (ASX:AKE) also surged by 4% each as major brokers upgraded the sector.

In other news, according to the Commsec state of the State report, Queensland is the best performing state economy for the first time as Tasmania drops to second place.

The report says Queensland’s economic activity has seen benefits from strong relative and absolute population growth, a solid job market and buoyant overseas demand for energy resources, such as coal and natural gas.

Across all the indicators, Queensland is now ahead of Tasmania which drops from first to second.

South Australia has lifted from fifth to third. NSW is now in joint fourth spot with Victoria, ahead of the ACT, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

 

Source: Commbank

 

BIG CAP WINNERS

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Karoon Energy (ASX:KAR) lifted 7% after the company reported an increase in its reserves and resources at its 100% owned Santos Basin concession, BM-S-40, in Brazil.

The company said its Proved, Probable and Possible (3P) reserves at 31 December have increased by 17%, 23% and 7%, to 42.8 MMbbl, 55.0 MMbbl and 65.5 MMbbl, respectively, compared to 30 June.

Block Inc (ASX:SQ2) rose 6% following a rally on tech stocks in New York overnight.

 

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Homeware and sporting group Briscoe (ASX:BGP) plunged 15% on no specific news.