Lithium shines, Westpac selling drags: Aus shares 0.39% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market opened higher on Wall Street’s lead but we quickly lost ground with the likes of Westpac Bank (ASX:WBC) and Treasury Wine (ASX:TWE) seeing heavy selling.

At midday, just two sectors are in the green, miners and oil companies.

The real stand outs today are lithium players, such as Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) which has added over 7 per cent while Orocobre (ASX:ORE) gained over 4 per cent.

As for the major heavyweights, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is leading BHP (ASX:BHP) and FMG (ASX:FMG) higher after the iron ore price jumped 1.1 per cent to US$68.03. While its future price is 0.8 per cent lower.

Energy companies are continuing to bode well for the second straight day after the US crude oil price is holding at 3.5 year high. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 24 points or 0.39 per cent lower at 6,083. On the futures market the SPI is 3 points higher.

Economic news

The number of employed people increased by almost 23,000 jobs in April 2018, in seasonally adjusted terms, beating the 20,000 jobs expected to be added.

However, the unemployment rate bumped up by 0.1 per cent to 5.6 per cent, surprising economists and traders who expected it to remain on hold at 5.5 per cent. 

Company news 

The competition watchdog says it’s continuing to review the proposed acquisition by toll road operator, Transurban (ASX:TCL) and its consortium, for a 51 per cent stake in the WestConnex assets, which are for sale by the NSW Government. At this stage the ACCC has not identified issues that raise concerns, but did outline issues that may raise concerns. TCL will continue to work with the corporate watchdog with its ongoing review of the purchase. As for TCL (ASX:TCL) shares they are trading 2.7 per cent lower at $11.24.

Salmon producer, Tassal Group (ASX:TGR) entered into a joint venture (JV) with Petuna to manage marine farms industry standards in Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour, while it will also improve job security and growth for local employees. The parties will work to set new benchmarks for aquaculture biosecurity standards in Tasmania. Both companies will continue to own leases, fish and fish infrastructure while jointly operating and overseeing a management committee that sets expectations for better biosecurity and environmental benefits. Tassal employees will continue to work in the Habour and on the JV. Shares in Tassal Group (ASX:TGR) are trading 0.3 per cent lower at $3.88.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is martials adding 0.8 per cent while worst performing sector is industrials, shedding 1.5 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY), rising 7.1 per cent to $3.33, followed by shares in Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG) and Orocobre (ASX:ORE).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Treasury Wine Estates (ASX:TWE), dropping 9.7 per cent to $16.27. followed by shares in Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX:CCL) and ALS (ASX:ALQ).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.4per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.1 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.2 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,293 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 75.35 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin trades at US$8,400, Ethereum is at US$714 and EOS has gained about 10 per cent to US$13.86