Subdued start for week: Aus shares close 0.1% lower

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian kicked off the trading week slightly lower, down by 0.1 per cent really following negative US leads amid trade war fears, plus news of the Nasdaq entering correction territory after Donald Trump tweeted Amazon was scamming the US Postal Service.

Half of our sectors closed in the red today, the discretionary space down the most, with Tabcorp (ASX:TAH), Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (ASX:DMP) losing over 2 per cent while the Australia dollar is rallying against most currencies. The likes Rio (ASX:RIO) traded over 2 per cent higher, with BHP (ASX:BHP) followed, despite the iron ore price going the other way.

But the big news of the day, was Santos (ASX:STO) shares jumping16 per cent after the energy company granted US equity firm Harbour Energy access to due diligence following its $13.5 billion takeover offer at $6.50 per share.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 8 points lower, or 0.1 per cent lower to finish at 5,752.


The Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 10 points up.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a fall of 5 points.

Value of trades

$699 billion on volume of 5.5 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Santos (ASX:STO) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).

Local economic news

The RBA kept interest rates on hold at 1.5 per cent as expected today with inflation remaining below the central bank’s 2 to 3 per cent target range.

AIG’s manufacturing index rose stronger than expected in March, hitting a reading of 63.1, breaking past the previous reading of 57.5 and surpassing the expected (56.5) reading.

Company news 

Mortgage Choice’s (ASX:MOC) CEO John Flavell resigned with immediate effect and was replaced by Susan Mitchell, who was most recently Chief Financial Officer. Susan was employed on a three year term unless extended or terminated by either party. As for Mortgage Choice’s (ASX:MOC) shares, they closed 4.4 per cent lower at $1.74.

Japanese company Mitsui & Co has taken its stake in oil and gas company, AWE (ASX:AWE) to 39 per cent. At this stage about 21 per cent of shareholders have accepted the $602 million takeover. AWE shares closed flat at $0.95.

The $32 billion takeover of Westfield (ASX:WFD) by French property giant Unibail-Rodamco has moved one step closer following approval from French and Dutch authorities.

Dairy company a2 Milk (ASX:A2M) responded to media speculation about the impact of rival company Nestle launching a similar product in the Chinese market. a2 says it’s not really concerned as it’s uniquely positioned to benefit from the expansion of milk over time, with the infant formula market in China estimated at US$20 billion.

Mining company, OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) has received approval from the South Australian government for its $916 million Carrapateena project.

Oil and gas company, Oil Search (ASX:OSH) has announced operations at its central processing facility in Papua New Guinea have resumed.

And Ridley Corporation (ASX:RIC) advised that one of its major suppliers for its rendering, Red Lea Chicken, has entered voluntary administration. Red Lea is also no longer operating its manufacturing facilities. 

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was energy adding 2.2 per cent to close at 10,279. The worst performing sector was consumer discretionary, shedding 1.5 per cent to close at 2,197. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Santos (ASX:STO), rising 16 per cent to close at $5.89. Shares in Independence Group (ASX:IGO) and Western Areas (ASX:WSA) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was BT Investment Management (ASX:BTT), dropping 3.2 per cent to close at $9.73. Shares in Breville Group (ASX:BRG) and Speedcast International (ASX:SDA) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.5 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 1.2 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,340 an ounce.
Light crude is $2.09 lower at $US62.85 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 76.92 US cents.


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