Selling continues, Viva & Medibank fall: Aus shares 0.4% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market failed to lift this morning, despite mostly positive leads from US equities at the weekend, while US equities and our market both ended lower last week.

Most of the sectors are lower today with Energy down the most with Viva Energy (ASX:VEA) stumbling 14 per cent after it downgraded its earnings, being hit by weaker than expected refiner margins and lost production in August.

Healthcare and Telcos are holding steady.

Broker moves

AGL (ASX:AGL) had its buy rating reiterated by Citi, with a price target of $20.27, noting that it expects a share buyback at the upcoming interim result announcement in February 2019. Citi also says consensus earnings don’t yet reflect higher wholesale electricity prices and it forecasts earnings will be five to six per cent above consensus FY19/20 estimates. It trades 1 lower.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 25 points or 0.4 per cent lower at 5,706. On the futures market the SPI is 14 points lower.

Local economic news

The average Australian home size has dropped to a 22-year low, according to CommSec, but Australia still ranks second in the world behind the US for dwelling space.

Company news

Healthscope (ASX:HSO) has provided due diligence materials to Brookfield Capital Partners after the company made a revised $4.5 billion takeover, offering to buy its shares for $2.585 cash per share. The exclusivity period for due diligence ends Friday 21 December 2018. Shares in Healthscope (ASX:HSO) are trading 0.7 per cent higher at $2.33 at noon.

Medibank Private (ASX:MPL) advised it has lost the Garrison Health Services contract, after providing the Australian Defence Force with healthcare services for the last six years. The private health insurer has made an operating profit of $30 million in FY18 from the contract. The exit cost will be $5 million in the second half of FY19. It comes as Medibank lost a tender process with the Australian Government Department of Defence. Shares in Medibank Private (ASX:MPL) are trading 6.1 per cent lower at $2.60 at noon.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Health Care adding 0.2 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Energy, shedding1.6 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Domain Holdings Australia (ASX:DHG) rising 5.96 per cent to $2.49, followed by Orocobre Limited (ASX:ORE), and Cleanaway Waste Management Limited (ASX:CWY).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Viva Energy (ASX:VEA), dropping 14 per cent to $1.77, followed by shares in Afterpay Touch Group Limited (ASX:APT) and Medibank Private Limited (ASX:MPL).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,222 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 0.5 per cent to US$75.31.
One Australian dollar is buying 73.17 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has gained 0.8 per cent to US$5,614, Ethereum has added about 1.1 per cent to US$176 and XRP has gained about 2.5 per cent to US$0.51