Unemployment rate drops in Dec: The ASX 0.2% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market opened higher and is now tracking 0.2 per cent higher at noon. Santos (ASX:STO) stock is one of the best performers today after announcing their record quarterly sales revenue of $1 billion, up 7 per cent and including record quarterly LNG sales revenue of $449 million, up 11 per cent. The results come on the back of the acquisition of Quadrant Energy which provided a significant boost to 2019 production. Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) also did well today – but Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) was on the worst performers list. As for the sectors, the Energy sector is leading the way and the Materials sector trailing behind. The unemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percent to 5.0 per cent in the December report released today – more on this later.

Broker upgrades

Bell Potter has rated James Hardie Industries (ASX:JHX) as Buy. James Hardie is involved in the residential and commercial building industries. The principal markets are the US, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Canada, and Europe - UK and France. James Hardie Industries shares (ASX:JHX) are trading 0.5 per cent lower to $15.03. It's target price for12 months is $21.00.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 10 points up at 5854. On the futures market the SPI is 6 points higher.

Local economic news

The Australian Bureau of statistics released the December employment report earlier today - it shows 21,600 jobs were created and a drop in the unemployment rate to 5 per cent.The market was looking for 18,000 jobs created and a flat unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent.

Company news

AI company BrainChip Holdings (ASX:BRN) has proposed changes to its Board of Directors. Following the retirement of Mick Bolto as Chairman of the Board in April 2018, the Board appointed CEO, Louis DiNardo, to fill the role of interim Chairman and Steve Liebeskind as a non-executive director on an interim basis. The Company is committed to the appointment of an Australian-based independent non-executive Chairman and an additional Australian based nonexecutive director with skills to complement existing Board members. Shares in BrainChip Holdings (ASX:BRN) are 3.1 per cent higher at $0.10

Advanced Nuclear Medicine Ingredients SA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) has expanded its prostate imaging capability through a Mexican Institute technology partnership. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer, after skin cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer death among men worldwide.
Shares in Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) is 1.99 per cent lower at $0.74.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Energy adding 1.6 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Materials, shedding 0.4 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Santos (ASX:STO), rising 4 per cent to $6.20, followed by shares in McMillan Shakespeare (ASX:MMS) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Regis Resources (ASX:RRL),dropping 5.5 per cent to $4.68, followed by shares in Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) and Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,285 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 0.4 per cent to US$74.48
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 1.23 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.61 US cents.