The Australian share market opened slightly higher following mixed leads from Wall Street and is now tracking 0.4 per cent lower at noon. Trump’s comments about steel and aluminium tariffs saw Metals prices end last week down about 1-5 per cent while iron ore prices were down around 2 per cent.
Today, Lynas Group (ASX:LYC) is among the best performers after reporting strong first half results. On the flip side Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG) which owns Gloria Jeans and Donut King lost more than 30 per cent after the company last week announced heavy write downs and store closures.
On the futures market the SPI is 20 points lower.
In economic news, dwelling approvals rose 0.1 per cent in January. It’s welcome news as trend approvals have been falling for the past three months, according to the ABS.
The Australian services sector index fell slightly in February by 0.9 points to a reading of 54 in February. It’s the 12th consecutive month of positive results and although it beat analysts’ expectations, it was it a slightly softer rate of expansion compared to January. But, it’s important to remember a reading above 50 points, indicates expansion, with the distance from 50 points indicating the strength of the increase.
The Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ) today confirms, it will redeem all of its outstanding convertible preference shares (ASX:BOQPD) with the optional conversion/redemption of 16 April 2018. The redemption price of $102.44 will be paid to holders on the 16 April. As for shares in the Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ), they’re trading 2.6 per cent lower $11.79.
Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. (ASX:MGT) has announced that the company poised to take it over, Canadian dairy giant Saputo, has started talks with the ACCC on a possible sale of the Koroit dairy processing plant in Victoria, to address the competition watchdog’s concerns. The ACCC last week commented that Saputo's proposed takeover of Murray Goulburn could have a negative effect on competition for farmer's milk in Western Victoria. The watchdog says that Saputo owning the Koroit plant would substantially lessen competition for the acquisition of dairy farmers' raw milk in the region. A final decision on the takeover is expected on March 29. Shares in Murray Goulbourn (ASX:MGT) are trading 0.6 per cent higher at 83 cents.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is healthcare adding 0.7 per cent to 26,684 points while the worst performing sector is utilities, shedding 1.5 per cent to 7387 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Myer (ASX:MYR), rising 14 per cent to $0.46, followed by shares in Lynas (ASX:LYC) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Retail food Group (ASX:RFG), dropping 32 per cent to $1.39, followed by shares in Spark Infrastructure (ASX:SKI) and Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY).
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,325 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying US$77.64 cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mixed: Bitcoin has gained 0.4 per cent to US$11,481, Tether dropped 0.3 per cent to $0.99 cents and Ethereum gained about 1 per cent to US$865.