Back in the black, ASX snaps 2-day fall: Aus shares 0.5% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Aussie share market snapped its two-day losing streak and is trading 0.4 per cent higher at noon with over half of the market seeing gains, with the Telcos, Healthcare, Utilities and the Energy sector leading.

From the get-go we had mixed Wall Street leads with investors still uncertain of what will eventuate from the US-China trade talks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 31 points or 0.5 per cent higher at 6,092. On the futures market the SPI is 28 points higher.

Local economic news

Lending commitments to households fell 4.4 per cent in December, in seasonally adjusted terms (according to the ABS). It follows a 2.4 per cent drop in lending in November 2018. It comes as large falls were seen in the lending in owner-occupier properties (a fall of 6.4 per cent) and investment dwellings (a fall of 4.6 per cent).

Company news

Industrial supplies company Pact Group Holdings (ASX:PGH) has been hit by input cost headwinds and weaker demand conditions. As a result, it’s announced a write-down of $310 to $340 million (after tax) for its 2019 HY accounts, while it also had to revise its long-term outlook for its Australian segment. Pact Group says it’s resulted in the company using more conservative assumptions for its growth and discount rates, and that’s led to expected EBITDA to be in the range of $230 to $245 million for this financial year. Shares in Pact Group Holdings (ASX:PGH) are trading 6.7 per cent lower at $3.67 at noon. Year-on-year its shares are 26 per cent lower.

Accounting software provider, Reckon Limited (ASX:RKN) has reported a 3 per cent rise in its net profit after tax for the year ending 31 December 2018. The company says it comes at a time when the business has had a 'significantly disruptive last few years'. The board approved its dividend policy at the half year to be reinstated, and a fully franked dividend of 3 cents per share, which was paid in September 2018. Over the period, revenue fell while operating cash flow improved by $1.2 million after the de-merger of the document management division in 2017. Shares in Reckon (ASX:RKN) last traded at $0.70. Year-on-year its shares are 53 per cent lower.

For reporting on other companies today, including Challenger (ASX:CGF) and Transurban (ASX:TCL) results, please refer to our Company News reports.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is S&P/ASX Health Care adding 1.1 per cent, while the worst performing sector is S&P/ASX Industrials, shedding 0.1 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Speedcast International (ASX:SDA), rising 5.32 per cent to $3.17, followed by shares in Rea Group Ltd (ASX:REA) and Ausdrill (ASX:ASL).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Pact Group Holdings (ASX:PGH), dropping 6.7 per cent to $3.67, followed by shares in Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (ASX:FLT) and GPT Group (ASX:GPT).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,307 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 5.9 per cent to US$90.58
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.7 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 70.72 US cents.