The Australian share market opened higher following positive leads from Wall Street. It has taken a dip this morning and is now tracking 0.1 per cent lower at noon. Most of the sectors are in the red. Communications, Financials and Industrials however have managed to snap some gains over the first two hours of trade.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 9 points down at 6,268. On the futures market the SPI is 29 points lower.
Goldman Sachs has upgraded Cochlear (ASX:COH) to a buy with a 12 month price target of $197. This follows the company's launch of the Nucleus Profile Plus Series cochlear implant yesterday.
Local economic news
Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that employment in Australia's large-scale solar energy sector increased 210 per cent in the 2017 to 2018 financial year. The number of full time equivalent jobs related to renewable energy activity grew by 28 per cent to a total of 17,740. Rooftop solar continues to be the main driver of employment in the sector, accounting for 46 per cent of the jobs. ABS Director for the Centre of Environmental and Satellite Accounts, Jonathon Khoo says '[f]actors contributing to the growth in renewable energy uptake in Australia include a reduction in costs, greater interest in clean energy sources and the development of electricity storage technologies'.
The Commonwealth Bank has released its business sales indicator for March. They show that the pace of economy wide spending is continuing to climb. The business sale indicator is a measure of economy-wide spending. It rose by 0.7 per cent in March following a similar lift in February. Spending growth continues to track above the 0.4 per cent long term average monthly growth pace. Spending rose across all states and territories last month except the Northern Territory.
Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) are set to boost their current 17 per cent stake in the Ranger Nickel Project to 60 per cent. This follows consultation with collaboration partner, Shanghai Decent, which currently holds the other 83 per cent stake. Nickel Mines will increase their holding of Ranger Investment Private, the Singaporean holding company that owns Indonesian company PT Nickel Industry, which owns the Ranger Nickel Project. The ownership decision was expedited after the project commissioned its first kiln well ahead of the September quarter commissioning target. Shares in Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) are trading 3.6 per cent higher at 43 cents at noon.
Household and personal care goods provider McPherson’s (ASX:MCP) say that trading for the first quarter was in line with the guidance they provided to the market in January. It expects full financial year underlying profit before tax to increase in the range of 10 to 15 per cent, in comparison with the 2018 financial year. Managing Director, Mr Laurence McAllister, says '[r]evenue from our core brands continues to grow strongly, increasing 10 per cent on the prior comparative period for the nine months ended March 2019, with primary brands Dr. LeWinn’s, Manicare and Multix delivering growth'. He says that new product innovation, in combination with increased distribution points, were the key drivers of this growth in the Australian market. Shares in McPherson (ASX:MCP) are trading 9.7 per cent higher at $1.14 at noon.
Education software provider ReadyTech Holdings (ASX:RDY) started trading today. It floated with an issue price of $1.51, opened at $1.70 and is trading at $1.73.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is Communications adding 1.5 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Healthcare shedding 1.6 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is DuluxGroup (ASX:DLX) following the board's unanimous recommendation to accept the 3.8 billion acquisition proposal from Nippon Paint Holdings. DuluxGroup added 27 per cent to $9.78, followed by shares in Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) and Emeco Holdings (ASX:EHL).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Fortesque Metals (ASX:FMG),dropping 6.1 per cent to $7.61, followed by shares in Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO).
Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.1 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.1 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,277 an ounce.
The iron ore price fell 0.7 per cent to US$94.78.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 3 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.95 US cents.