ASX turns around to gain: Aus shares 0.34% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Kathy Skantzos

After an initially slow start of trade this morning on the back of a bumpy ride in US markets, the ASX has taken a positive turn and lifted around 0.34 per cent.

The Energy sector is outweighing the others. Engineering group Monadelphous (ASX:MND) has picked up around 5 per cent. James Hardie (ASX:JHX) shares are edging towards 6 per cent, lifting the Materials sector. Info Technology has lifted on the back of NextDC (ASX:NXT) shares gaining almost 8 per cent.

Healthcare has fallen, with shares in Medibank (ASX:MPL) dropping nearly 3 per cent. REITS have also dropped, with property development company Stockland (ASX:SGP) losing 2 per cent. Shares in Telstra (ASX:TLS) have fallen after announcing this morning the telco will write down $273 million, including the entire value of its US-based intelligent video business, Ooyala.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 20 points up at 6,111. On the futures market the SPI is 19 points higher.

Local economic news

The Producer Price Index, Australia’s business inflation measure, rose 0.6 per cent for the December quarter, after the market expected a loss. This takes the annual figure to 1.7 per cent, above market expectations.

Company news

Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) is on a trading halt after the gambling company waits for a Federal Court decision on whether its gaming machines comply with federal legislation. The judgement is expected to be delivered today, 2 February 2018. Shares in Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) last traded at $24.45.

Gateway Lifestyle Group (ASX:GTY) has announced it will divest two of its non-core assets. The total value of the divestments is $18.4 million. This includes the Bass Hill asset for $10.4 million, and Rainbow Waters for $8 million. Shares in Lifestyle Group(ASX:GTY) are trading down 0.24 per cent at $2.06.

MG Unit Trust (ASX:MGC), the Devondale Murray Goulburn food company, has received an extension from the ACCC for the outcome of its review of the Saputo acquisition of all of Murray Goulburn’s operating assets. The date has been extended to 1 March 2018 from 15 February 2018. The company says the transaction is still anticipated to be complete in the first half of 2018. Shares in MG Unit Trust (ASX:MGC) are trading 0.3 per cent higher at $0.83.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Energy adding 1.8 per cent to 11,162 points while the worst performing sector is REITS, shedding 1.1 per cent to 1,347 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is NextDC (ASX:NXT), rising 7.67 per cent to $6.18, followed by shares in James Hardie (ASX:JHX) and Monadephous (ASX:MND).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Medibank Private (ASX:MPL), dropping 2.68 per cent to $3.27, followed by shares in Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) and Galaxy Resources(ASX:GXY).

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,347 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 80.21 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower.

Bitcoin has fallen 14.5 per cent to $8,761.
Ethereum fallen 14 per cent to $971.
Tether has fallen 1.4 per cent to $0.98.