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The ASX200 has continued to gather early gains and is up nearly half a per cent – with every sector – except energy – trading in the green. Real estate stocks are strongest today, gaining 1.45 per cent. Energy’s lagging, dropping about .65 per cent.

There would be an element of relief given that Australian retail turnover was down 0.2 per cent last month, according to seasonally adjusted figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australian shoppers spent $35.77 billion in October, with turnover down in all retail categories except food.

While this may lessen the likelihood of another interest rates rise, perhaps a greater catalyst for inflation tracking will be tomorrow’s October Consumer Price Index figures. And, of course, next month it’ll be interesting to see the impact of the massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales weekend that’s just passed.

RBA governor Michele Bullock is in Hong Kong today – taking part in a panel discussion – at an event hosted by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. She’ll be addressing inflation, financial stability, and employment.

International restaurant franchiser Collins Foods (ASX:CKF) has been trading up more than eight per cent on the release of its half-year results.

For the six months to October 15, revenue across its operations was up 14.3 per cent to $696.5 million.

The company posted a half-year net profit of $50.5 million, a sharp rise from $11 million for the same period last year. Its underlying EBITDA was also up 16.7 per cent to $109.9 million.

Collins Foods has seen strong growth across all its business units and has been trading at $10.85.

Biotech developer Imugene (ASX:IMU) is up nearly 10 per cent on news its bile duct cancer-killing virus treatment candidate, Vaxinia, has been granted fast-track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The status is awarded to expedite the the review of drug candidates to treat serious conditions and help new therapies reach patients earlier. Bile duct cancers are difficult to treat and have responded poorly to immunotherapy drugs.

The award follows promising data from Imugene’s phase one efficacy and tolerability trial.

IMU has been trading at 10 cents.

Barton Gold (ASX:BGD) has been up more than four per cent on finding untested structures through detailed seismic surveys at its Tarcoola gold project in South Australia.

It’s the first detailed architecture of the Tarcoola Goldfield since it was discovered 130 years ago. There has been little modern exploration, but a history of high-grade production from about 600 shallow historical workings.

Barton Gold aims to drill test the highest-priority exploration targets early next year.

BGD has been trading at 25 cents.

And Lithium Universe (ASX:LU7) is up nearly three per cent on updating the progress on an Engineering study for its Quebec Lithium Processing Hub in Canada (QLPH).

Primero is conducting the study, basing the design on what was Galaxy Resources’ – now Allkem’s (ASX:AKE) Mt Cattlin operations.

The stand-alone lithium concentrator is expected to process up to one million tonnes of lithium per year, the output is expected to be around 140,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate at a grade of 5.5 per cent lithium oxide.

LU7 has been trading at 3.8 cents.

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