The Australian share market closed at a new four-month high today, despite starting the first half of the trading session in the red.
At around noon, over half of the market was in negative territory, with Materials weighing the most on the back of reporting season. However, by the afternoon, most of the sectors were back in the black with the Energy sector clawing out of the red, after the US crude oil price hit a new 2019 high, while Consumer Discretionary rose the most, on Webjet (ASX:WEB) shares bouncing to a four-month high.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 43 points, or 0.7 per cent higher to finish at 6,139.
From the outset, we have positive Wall Street leads after the Federal Reserve released in its board minutes.
Dow futures are suggesting a gain of 100 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a rise of 9 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a gain of 29 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 38 point rise tomorrow morning
Local economic news
Australia’s unemployment rate remained steady as expected, at 5.0 per cent (in seasonally adjusted terms) in January 2019 according to the ABS. It comes despite the RBA hinting it would like the unemployment rate to drop before it can consider making a move on the cash rate.
Meantime, the average weekly earnings for full-time Australians came in at $1,604.90 (trend), according to new Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released today, for November 2018.
This is a 2.4 per cent rise over the year and a 1.2 per cent gain on over six months.
MYOB (ASX:MYO) has reported a 5 per cent rise in its attributable profit after tax for the 12-month period to 31 December 2018 to $63.8 million. Its revenue grew by 7 per cent to $445.2 million, while its while underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) remained stable at $190 million. It also declared an interim 2018 dividend of 5.75 cents per share (paid 18 October 2018). And no final dividend for 2018. Shares in MYOB (ASX:MYO) closed 0.9 per cent lower at $3.38.
Travel company Webjet (ASX:WEB) announced its net profit after tax (NPAT) grew 61 per cent to $38.3 million for the first half of FY19. It was a record first half, with a 42 per cent rise in EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to $58.0 million.
Wesfarmers (ASX:WES), one of today’s top performing companies on the ASX, after it announced its net profit after tax jumped to $4.54 billion in the HY to 31 December 2018, up from $212 million, it also saw a lift in group revenues and normalised EBIT. Despite that, UBS says the results 'were messy' compared to their expectations. UBS says future earnings will be lower quality and it has the conglomerate (ASX:WES) as a hold/neutral stock, with a 12-month price target of $30.75.
In a joint statement, medical device maker ResMed (ASX:RMD), and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (ASX:FPH) agreed to settle all outstanding patent infringement disputes between the companies. Each alleged the other infringed their patents. The settlement involves no payment or admission of liability by either side.
Nine Entertainment Co Holdings (ASX:NEC) reported its net profit after tax fell slightly (1 per cent) to $171.6 million in the half year to 31 December 2018. That was better than Citi’s expected NPAT of $117 million. Its revenue and group earnings (EBITDA) also fell over the period, with flat contributions from Domain, amid the housing market slow down. Looking at the broader result for the full 2019 financial year, Nine expects EBITDA growth of at least 10 per cent compared to the same time last year, and for that momentum to continue in FY20, thanks to its bolstered position on the back of merging with Fairfax.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was S&P/ASX Consumer Discretionary adding 3.9 per cent while the worst performing sector was S&P/ASX Materials, shedding 0.7 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Webjet (ASX:WEB), rising 30.6 per cent to close at $14.85. Shares in Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation (ASX:FPH) and Nine Entertainment Holdings (ASX:NEC) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was St Barbara (ASX:SBM), dropping 8 per cent to close at $4.82. St Barbara was downgraded from a buy to a hold/neutral position by Goldman Sachs on a valuation perspective. It delivered EBITDA and underlying earnings in line with its estimates. Shares in Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX:SAR) and Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.6 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.7 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,341 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 1.4 per cent to US$88.00
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.4 per cent.
Light crude is $0.79 up at US$57.24 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.62 US cents.