Bumper reporting day fails to boost market: ASX closes 0.2% lower

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market closed 0.2 per cent lower today after a bumper number of companies reporting their half year results. Good results for some with shares in Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) topping the best performers list today after they reported a 27 per cent rise in half-year net profit to $38.8 million. Meanwhile, logistics software company Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC) saw their shares drop despite posting a net profit of $23.1 million for the six months to December 31, up 48 per cent on the prior corresponding period. Revenue is at $156.7 million up 68 per cent. The Materials sector is leading the way and Consumer Staples falling behind. At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 10 points lower to finish at 6097.

Futures

Dow futures are suggesting a loss of 30 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a loss of 3 points.
The Nasdaq futures also lost 3 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 16 point fall tomorrow morning

Local economic news

The seasonally adjusted Wage Price Index rose 0.5 per cent in December quarter 2018 and 2.3 per cent through the year, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Annually, private sector wages rose 2.3 per cent and public sector wages grew 2.5 per cent. Western Australia once again recorded the lowest through the year wage growth of 1.6 per cent while Victoria recorded the highest of 2.7 per cent.

Company news now

Bell Financial Group (ASX:BFG) has recorded a full-year net profit after tax of $24.7 million, an increase of 20 per cent on the prior corresponding period. Group revenue increased by 7 per cent to $220 million. In this period the Group increased its ownership of online broking business Third Party Platform from 56.63 per cent to 100 per cent.They also opened a new office in New York during 2018 and launched a new investment service, called the “Bell Potter Guided Portfolio Service”. Shares in Bell Financial Group (ASX:BFG) are trading 2.8 per cent lower at $0.85.

Woolworths Group (ASX:WOW) reported their half year profit ending December 2018, posting a 1 per cent increase in net profit to $979 million from $969 million the prior corresponding period. They showed improved sales performance at BIG W with comparable sales growth of 3.8 per cent. The company is due to sell petrol to EG Group at the end of March in the UK with an intention to return up to $1.7 billion of capital. Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 45 cents per share, up from 43 cents the previous year. The company has also appointed Jennifer Carr-Smith to the Board as a Non-Executive Director - currently Chairman of Swap.com an online store in the US. Shares in the Woolworths Group (ASX:WOW) closed 5.2 per cent lower at $28.69.

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) has reported a 5 per cent dip in half-year profit, but shares are at a two year high as the iron ore price increased.

Domino's Pizza (ASX:DMP) reported a net profit of $53.3 million for the six months to December 30, compared to $58.7 million a year earlier. They has to pay $10.9 million in one-off legal and settlement costs in Australian and New Zealand.

The a2 Milk (ASX:A2M) saw their shares rise as they reported net profit, earnings and revenue for the half year all higher compared to the last corresponding period. Net profit rose 55 per cent to $153 million.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Materials adding 1.8 per cent while the worst performing sector was Consumer Staples, shedding 2.5 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD), rising 14.7 per cent to close at $28.81. Shares in Emeco Holdings (ASX:EHL) and Bingo Industries (ASX:BIN) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pact Group Holdings (ASX:PGH),dropping 17 per cent to close at $2.58. Shares in McMillan Shakespeare (ASX:MMS) and Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC) followed lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.4 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.6 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.3 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,343 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 1 per cent to US$89.21
Iron ore futures are eyeing a fall of 2 per cent.
Light crude is $0.45 up at US$56.43 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.65 US cents.