ASX to open lower again (for the third time this week)

Market Reports

by David Chau

Today, the Australian share market is bracing for its third downward open this week.

Wall Street is providing mostly negative leads – and it was affected by a fall in oil prices overnight, as well as IBM’s first-quarter results. Around 75% of American companies have reported positive first-quarter results so far. However, IBM missed its sales estimates, and was a major drag on the Dow Jones index.

Energy was the worst performing US sector, followed by healthcare and financials. However, most American sectors finished in positive territory.

Although European markets were smashed on Tuesday night after British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election for June, they mostly recovered overnight.

Asian markets continue to being affected by negative sentiment over US-North Korea geopolitical tensions.

US economic news

The Federal Reserve has released the Beige Book for the period between mid-February and the end of March. This is the Fed’s periodic gauge of the US economy’s health, based on its surveys with business contacts nationwide, across twelve districts.

The Fed said the US economy expanded at a modest-to-moderate pace. However, inflation pressures remained – despite it being tougher for businesses to attract and retain workers. The Fed added that prices rose modestly, on balance, and that firms mostly expected price growth to be mild to moderate in the coming months.

Australian economic news

NAB will release the results of its Business Confidence survey for the March quarter. So look out for that later today.

Markets

Wall Street finished mixed this morning: The Dow Jones was down 0.6% to 20,404, the S&P 500 lost 0.2% to 2,388, and the NASDAQ lifted 0.2% to 5,863 points.

European markets finished mixed overnight: London’s FTSE fell 0.5%, Paris rose 0.3% and Frankfurt was up 0.1%.

Asian markets finished mostly lower yesterday: the Nikkei rose almost 0.1%, the Hang Seng dropped 0.4% and the Shanghai Composite was down 0.8%.

Australia’s ASX 200 fell 33 points (or 0.56%) to close at 5,804.

This morning on the futures market, the SPI is down 13 points.

Company news

New Hope Corporation's (ASX:NHC) 40%-held subsidiary, Bengalla Mining Company Pty Ltd, has sued MACH Energy Australia Pty Ltd in the Land and Environment Court of NSW. Bengalla is alleging that MACH Energy is carrying out further development at the Mount Pleasant Thermal Coal Project before satisfying the terms of its Development Consent. Bengalla is seeking restraining orders against MACH from the Court. Yesterday, New Hope shares closed 1.71% lower at $1.72.

Ex-dividends

Three companies are going ex-dividend today:

- Oneall International (ASX:1AL) will pay 2.5 cents, unfranked,
- Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ) will pay 38 cents, fully franked, and
- Glennon Small Companies (ASX:GC1) will pay 1 cent, fully franked.


Currencies

At 7.30am, the Australian Dollar has weakened against major currencies, and was buying:

- 74.97 US cents,
- 58.67 Pence Sterling,
- 81.61 Yen, and
- 70 Euro cents.

Commodities

Gold has plummeted by $9.90 to $US1,282 an ounce.
Silver is down 14 cents at US$18.14 an ounce.
Oil fell by $1.79 to $US51 a barrel.