Unemployment rate falls to 4.9% in Feb: ASX tracking 0.3% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market struggled for most of the morning and is tracking 0.3 per cent lower at noon. Agricultural chemical company Nufarm (ASX:NUF) have seen a rise in their shares after announcing their headline HY2018 profit swung 214 per cent down to a net loss of $13.6 million on the back of dry weather impacting their results for the half year to 31 January 2019. WorleyParsons (ASX:WOR) shares also rose today as they received clearance from the US foreign investment board for their acquisition of Jacobs ECR division. Another riser today is Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) - they released their results for financial year 2019 showing NPAT was down 33.1 per cent on last year. Meanwhile,  Eclipx Group (ASX:ECX) continue to see their shares fall after McMillan Shakespeare called off its takeover bid.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 15 points down at 6,150. On the futures market the SPI is 13 points lower.

Local economic news

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage point to 4.9 per cent in February 2019, while the participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 65.6 per cent. The seasonally adjusted number of people employed increased by 4,600.

Company news

Brickworks (ASX:BKW) say more US acquisition opportunities are currently under investigation. The company recently acquired Glen-Gery -a differentiated brick business in the US, with a leading position in the north-east, mid-atlantic and mid-west regions of the States. Brickworks say high energy costs are forcing them to consider overseas opportunities. Their first-half profit rose 18.1 per cent to $114.6 million. Shares in Brickworks (ASX:BKW) are 0.1 per cent at $18.10.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is, Energy adding 0.5 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Consumer Staples, shedding 0.5 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nufarm (ASX:NUF), rising 4.5 per cent to $4.42, followed by shares in Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) and Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Eclipx Group (ASX:ECX),dropping 6 per cent to $0.78, followed by shares in Flight Centre Travel (ASX:FLT) and New Hope Corp (ASX:NHC).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,316 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 3.4 per cent to US$84.30
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.7 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.66US cents.