AMA Group (ASX:AMA) plunges on CEO controversy: Aus shares close 0.7% lower

Market Reports

by Katrina Bullock

After opening slightly higher, the market retreated in early trade and slid during the day to end 0.7 per cent lower at the close. Energy was hit the hardest, down 3.4 per cent. At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 44 points lower to finish at 6,781.

Futures market

Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 85 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a dip of 6 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a lift of 64 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 58 point fall tomorrow morning.



Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the Consumer Price Index rose 0.9 per cent during the December quarter. Tobacco saw the largest price hike, climbing 10.9 per cent while electricity declines the most, down 7.5 per cent.

Commsec also released the quarterly State of the States report today. Tasmania managed to hold the top spot on the economic performance rankings. It leads on four of the eight economic indicators. The Australian Capital Territory came in second. South Australia and Victoria shared third place. Queensland came in fifth. NSW and Western Australia were just behind sharing the sixth spot, while the Northern Territory got the wooden spoon. The data showed that ACT has the strongest job market, with unemployment standing at 3.7 per cent.

Broker moves

Macquarie rates the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) as an Underperform, with a price target of $78.00. The broker has a neutral view of the sector, which continues to operate in a challenging environment. It remains concerned about the pressure on revenue from margins and fees. It believes valuations are stretched and that rising bond yields are likely to push even higher. Macquarie expects the bank’s peers to provide investors with better leverage to a recovery. Shares in Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) closed 1.6 per cent higher at $86.60.

Company news

Industrial manufacturing group, Reliance Worldwide Corporation (ASX:RWC) says all of its main geographic regions have produced strong sales and profits in the six months ended 31 December 2020. Preliminary data shows that EBITDA is up at least 30 per cent and is likely to sit in the range of $164 to $167 million. Shares in Reliance Worldwide Corporation (ASX:RWC) closed 6.6 per cent higher at $4.37.

The board of automotive aftercare provider AMA Group (ASX:AMA) has been barred from dismissing its chief executive officer and director Andrew Hopkins. The board received allegations from a whistleblower within the company last September, and engaged McGrath Nicol to undertake an independent forensic investigation. Mr Hopkins made an urgent application to the Federal Court of Australia yesterday alleging that he is being oppressed as a minority shareholder. The Federal Court of Australia has issued a temporary order to stop the company from dismissing Mr Hopkins prior to a further hearing, which is expected to take place next week.

Aussie e-commerce giant Booktopia Group (ASX:BKG) has notched record sales during the Christmas period and the half year. Unaudited financials show a 52 per cent increase in revenue to $113 million for the half, and an increase of just over 500 per cent in EBITDA for the period.

Oil Search (ASX:OSH) has delivered a solid quarter, resulting in record annual Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas production against a backdrop of improving commodity prices.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Information Technology, gaining 1.4 per cent, while the sector trailing behind was Energy, dropping 3.4 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was IDP Education (ASX:IEL), closing 7.7 per cent higher at $23.23, followed by Reliance Worldwide (ASX:RWC) and Pro Medicus (ASX:PME).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG), dropping 6.4 per cent to $23.68, followed by shares in OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) and Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 0.2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite is 0.03 per cent lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at US$1,848 an ounce.
Iron ore has lost 2.4 per cent to US$165.07.
Iron ore futures are suggesting a fall of 0.6 per cent.
Light crude has gained $0.11 to US$50.32.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.37 US cents.