It has been a positive day of trade for the Australian share market, with the local bourse snapping its two-day losing streak. Most of the sectors traded higher today with Energy, Utilities, Healthcare and Telcos leading the charge.
The XJO was higher earlier in the session but selling in Financials capped gains. Traders and analysts also didn’t appear to like some earnings results that were released to the ASX, with from the likes of Pact Group (ASX:PGH) shares falling almost 10 per cent after the manufacturer announced it was hampered by weaker demand.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 18 points higher, or 0.3 per cent to finish at 6,079.
From the get-go we had mixed Wall Street leads with investors still uncertain of what will eventuate from the US-China trade talks.
Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 122 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a rise of 13 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a gain of 40 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 23 point rise tomorrow morning.
Local economic news
Lending commitments to households fell 4.4 per cent in December, in seasonally adjusted terms (according to the ABS) with large falls seen in lending in owner-occupier properties (a fall of 6.4 per cent) and investment dwellings (a fall of 4.6 per cent).
The European Commission granted approved for global packaging company Amcor (ASX:AMC) and NYSE flexible packaging listed company, Bemis to proceed with their planned all-stock deal. AMC expects the deal will be completed by the second quarter of CY19. Regulatory approvals are still needed in the US. AMC’s first half 2019 results (released yesterday) with NPAT of US$329 million were below expectations (consensus $332 million and $346 million). Meantime, Citi has raised its 12-month price target from $15.00 to $16.10, with Citi saying should the Bemis transaction be completed, consensus upgrades will occur. Shares in Amcor (ASX:AMC) closed 0.5 per cent higher at $14.63. Year-on-year its shares are 1.4 per cent higher.
Investment management firm, Challenger (ASX:CGF) has announced its (normalised) net profit after tax fell 4 per cent to $200 million for the six months to December 2018. Total assets under management rose 2 per cent to $78.4 billion. Challenger says its performance has been impacted by a number of challenging operating conditions, including market volatility, industry disruption and political uncertainty. Year-on-year its shares are 38 per cent lower.
Transurban Group (ASX:TCL) has reported its profit after tax (NPAT) fell 56 per cent from $331 million to $145 million in the half-year to December 31 when compared to the prior period. Net profit was impacted by $291 million in stamp duty and integration costs related to the WestConnex acquisition. Year-on-year its shares are 9.4 per cent higher.
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'. It reinstated a half year fully franked dividend of 3 cents per share, which was paid in September 2018. Year-on-year its shares are 53 per cent lower.
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 (impairment) 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 businesses. Its expected EBITDA will now in the range of $230 to $245 million for this financial year. Year-on-year its shares are 26 per cent lower.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was S&P/ASX Energy adding 1.2 per cent while the worst performing sector was S&P/ASX Financials, shedding 0.2 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL), rising 7.2 per cent to close at $1.56. Shares in Emeco Holdings Limited (ASX:EHL) and REA Group (ASX:REA) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pact Group Holdings (ASX:PGH), dropping 9.7 per cent to close at $3.55. Shares in Estia Health (ASX:ORE) and Orocobre (ASX:ORE) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has added 2.6 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.7 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,309 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 5.9 per cent to US$90.58
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.9 per cent.
Light crude is $0.27 lower at US$52.45 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 70.77 US cents.