CSL continues to shine, financials weigh: Aus shares close flat

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market had a bumpy day and finished slightly higher, by a tenth of a point. It comes as we started higher after Wall Street set some records thanks to Amazon and Facebook’s all-time highs.

The ASX200 then fell into the red with selling in staples and financials, capping gains, but selling started to pare back in the afternoon with the likes of NAB (ASX:NAB) and Westpac Bank (ASX:WBC) clawing back some of their early losses.

Health stocks again continued to shine, after we saw CSL (ASX:CSL) extending its new all-time high and finishing above $204 for the first time, after a top broker lifted its price target to $232 with the Citi analyst saying it expects a positive earnings season. Interesting, one year ago it traded at $130 and five years ago it was a $63 stock. 

On the major heavy weight front, BHP (ASX:BHP) slipped 0.7 per cent while Rio (ASX:RIO) lost 0.1 per cent after the iron ore price rose 1.1 per cent to US$64.06, while its futures are pointing to a fall of 0.1 per cent.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.1 points higher at 6,268, and over the week we lost 4 points or 0.06 per cent.

Futures market

Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 80 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 6 point rise.

Value of trades

$4.6 billion on volume of 533 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and ANZ (ASX:ANZ).

Company news 

Netwealth (ASX:NWL) shares rallied today after it lifted its profit guidance by 6 per cent, above its FY18 proforma net profit after tax (NPAT) forecast. It comes as its funds under administration rose by almost $2 billion in the fourth quarter to about $18 billion. Meantime, it was downgraded by Goldman Sachs from a buy to a neutral position yesterday. Shares Netwealth (ASX:NWL) closed 8.05 per cent higher at $9.13.

Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) was one of the best performing stocks after its JV with Hexagon Resources (ASX:HXG) started a definitive feasibility study for their flake graphite project in the East Kimberley region of WA. It comes as Mineral Resources (MinRes) approved the initial budget for the study works, including a drill program of 12,000 metres. Drilling will also test new targets in the east, support a planned upgrade and generate core samples for metallurgical test work. It’s booked to be completed by October 2019, allowing for a mining decision to be made.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is set to sell its interest in the world’s second largest copper mine, Grasberg in Indonesia for $3.5 billion. It’s planning to sell its interests to Indonesia’s state mining company, Inalum. It’s selling the right to 40 per cent of production over an agreed level and 40 per cent of all production after the year 2022.

Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG) has received Environmental Permit Authorisation to recommission the Bibiani underground mine and processing plant, which has the potential of producing about 100,000 ounces of gold per year, over a ten-year mine life.

Serviced office provider, Servcorp (ASX:SRV) has settled on proceedings brought down by the corporate watchdog, agreeing to pay the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) $150,000 and undertake a compliance program for two of its subsidiaries. It comes after the Federal Court found that three small business contracts were unfair and therefore void.

IPOs 

Petrol production company Viva Energy Group (ASX:VEA) started trading today, floating with an issue price of $2.50, opened at $2.43 and it closed at $2.40.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was healthcare adding 1.45 per cent.
The worst performing sector was consumer staples, shedding 0.7 per cent,

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Mineral Resources Limited (ASX:MIN), rising 5.04 per cent to close at $16.04. Shares in Wisetech Global Limited (ASX:WTC) and Sigma Healthcare Limited (ASX:SIG) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Southern Cross Media Group Limited (ASX:SXL), dropping 4.12 per cent to close at $1.28. Shares in GWA Group Limited (ASX:GWA) and Pilbara Minerals Limited (ASX:PLS) followed lower.

Asian markets

Mixed: Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.98 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 0.32 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has shed 0.5 per cent.

Wall Street

Wrapped up our four trading days this week higher: The Dow Jones added 2.6 per cent, The S&P 500 added 0.5 per cent and the tech heavy Nasdaq gained 1.7 per cent, while the 100 index added 2.2 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,245 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.50 up at $US69.36 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.13 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

Some of the most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mixed. Bitcoin has fallen 0.8 per cent to US$6,261, Ethereum has fallen 0.4 per cent to US$438 and EOS is going the other way, trading about 3.7 per cent higher at US$7.16.