The Australian share market opened lower this morning, with banks weighing heavily on the local exchange, but is now trading 0.5 per cent up at noon. The S&P/ASX 200 index is 28 points up at 6,173. On the futures market the SPI is 12 points down.
Local Economic News
Filled jobs fell by 0.1 per cent and hours worked by 0.8 per cent between the December and March quarters, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, Bjorn Jarvis, said “The Labour Account shows the extent of the early impacts from COVID-19 on jobs and hours across the first quarter of the year.” Filled jobs decreased for the first time since September quarter 2016 and the number of job vacancies decreased by 0.2 per cent over the quarter, and was down 2.2 per cent on March quarter 2019.
Citi has rated Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) as a Sell. Wesfarmers has delivered strong sales over the second half for Bunnings and Officeworks, up 19% and 28%, although the spike in sales during April and May has come with additional costs, which the broker has noted diminishes the operating leverage typically associated with better trends. As activity resumes and restrictions ease Citi expects sales growth in FY21 will normalise back to pre-pandemic levels. Shares in Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) are trading 3.5 per cent higher at $43.24.
Opthea (ASX:OPT) has reported positive Phase 2a trial results for its OPT-302 treatment in Diabetic Macular Edema. The eye treatment developer said positive top line results came through for its trial evaluating safety and efficacy. The Phase 2a clinical trial was conducted at 53 sites across the United States, Israel, Australia and Latvia, recruiting a total of 144 participants, with 115 of the 144 patients conforming sufficiently with the trial protocol. Shares in Opthea (ASX:OPT) are trading 7.1 per cent lower at $3.12.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Health Care, adding 3.2 per cent, while the worst performing sector is REITs shedding 2 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX:SAR), rising 10.1 per cent to $4.67, followed by shares in Harvey Norman Holdings (ASX:HVN) and Afterpay (ASX:APT).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Smartgroup Corporation (ASX:SIQ), dropping almost 5.9 per cent to $6.59, followed by shares in Worley (ASX:WOR) and G8 Eductaion (ASX:GEM).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,717 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 1 per cent to US$104.60.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.1 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 69.58 US cents.