Back track on company results: Aus shares close 0.7% lower

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market wiped out yesterday’s gains, taking us further away from record highs and sending the ASX200 to the 6,020 mark. It comes as traders and investors digested some results that missed the mark with the likes of Harvey Norman and Bega Cheese both trading lower after announcing first half financial results.

As for the sectors, telcos took the cake as the worst performing sector, followed by property and mining companies which dragged most of the sectors lower.

Utilities, industrials and staples bucked the trend today. Lithium player, Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) gained the most and Speedcast International (ASX:SDA) and Costa Group (ASX:CGC) also rubbed shoulders with today’s top risers.

From the get go, we did have negative leads to follow as Wall Street closed lower. And if you turn overseas again, the Dow futures are suggesting a weak start this evening for US shares. Just another reason why the ASX failed to snap its selling state this afternoon. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 40.9 points down on Wednesday or with a loss of 0.7 per cent at 6,016. And the ASX futures market suggest a 40 point fall.

The value of trades was $7.2 billion on volume of 961 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ).

Company news 

Macquarie Atlas Roads (ASX:MQA) profits have soared in 2017 on the back of it snapping up a US toll road and increasing its stake in French toll road Autoroutes. The toll road group’s annual net profit more than doubled to about $520 million from $225 million in 2016. Its earnings (EBITDA) from road assets also charged ahead, rising about 5 per cent over the year to $653 million. Shares in Macquarie Atlas Roads Group (ASX:MQA) closed 1.8 per cent higher at $5.54.

Retailer Harvey Norman (ASX:HVN) has seen its profits drop about 19 per cent in the half year ending December 2017, taking its net profit after tax and non-controlling interests from $257 million to $208 million. The fall in profit comes despite a near 5 per cent rise in sales revenue to over $1 billion in the half year.

Cement and masonry manufacturer, Adelaide Brighton (ASX:ABC) has seen its full year profit slip 2.3 per cent. The company says profit slightly fell on the back of one off costs, acquisitions and restructuring expenses. Meantime, its revenue jumped 12 per cent to a record $1.6 billion thanks to strong demand for construction supplies on the east coast and improving conditions in SA.

And Virgin Australia Holdings (ASX:VAH) reported a half year loss for the period ending December 2017 totalling $10 million. Despite the dampened result, it was an improvement on the prior corresponding period’s $36 million loss. In good news though, its revenue lifted six per cent compared to the prior corresponding period to $2.8 billion.

Local economic news

Private Sector Credit or ‘loans outstanding’ held steady for the month of January, when compared to December, however the market was expecting loans outstanding to have grown more than they did. As a result the ASX200 lost a bit of steam after the data came out as well.

Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was utilities adding 1.12 per cent to close at 7,649. The worst performing sector was telcos, shedding 2.6 per cent to close at 1,216 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), rising 10.84 per cent to close at $0.92. Shares in Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) and Speedcast International (ASX:SDA) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Harvey Norman Holdings (ASX:HVN), dropping 12.45 per cent to close at $4.01. Shares in Bega Cheese (ASX:BGA) and Adelaide Brighton (ASX:ABC) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.78 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 1.68 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 1.27 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,318 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.07 down at $US62.84 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.92 US cents.


Bitcoin has gained about 6 per cent to $10,939
Ethereum has gained about 1 per cent to US$886
Ripple has fallen about 0.6 per cent to $0.95.