The Australian share market dropped at the open and continues to fall – currently trading 0.4 per cent lower. Shares in Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) have dropped almost 5 per cent after their board announced the proposed merger with Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (ASX:API) is not in the best interests of shareholders. Gage Roads Brewing (ASX:GRB) saw their shares rise after they announced theyve secured a site for its first microbrewery and taproom in Sydney. It will be open to the public and for trade. New Hope Corp (ASX:NHC), and Appen (ASX:APX) are other risers today. Utilities are leading the sectors today with Telco services falling the most.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 23 points down at 6,152. On the futures market the SPI is 18 points lower.
Local economic news
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment fell 4.8% to 98.8 in March from 103.8 in February. This is its lowest level in the last 18 months. Pessimists again outnumber optimists.
Corporate Travel Management (CTM) (ASX:CTD) has responded to market speculation saying while it is continuing to assess a number of potential acquisition targets, it is in early talks with Capita PLC about its travel businesses. However, travel business CTM, assured shareholders that no takeovers or purchases will be made this financial year. CTM also says there is no certainty it will reach an agreement with Capita. Corporate Travel Management (CTM) (ASX:CTD) shares are trading 2.1 per cent higher to $24.84.
The Dexus Property Group (ASX:DXS) is set to acquire the remaining 50 per cent interest in the MLC Centre in Sydney in conjunction with the Dexus Wholesale Property Fund (DWPF). The GPT Group (ASX:GPT) announced the sale this morning of its 50 per cent interest in for $800 million. This sale price represents a 3 per cent premium to GPT’s 31 December 2018 book value. The proceeds from the sale will be reinvested primarily into their development pipeline. The companies are expecting to settle early next month. Shares in the Dexus Property Group (ASX:DXS) is down 1.7 per cent $12.33.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Utilities, adding 0.3 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Telcos, shedding just over 1 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is New Hope Corp (ASX:NHC), rising 3.6 per cent to $4.36, followed by shares in Appen (ASX:APX) and Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX:SAR).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG), dropping 4.9 per cent to $0.58, followed by shares in Emeco Holdings (ASX:EHL) and Ardent Leisure Group (ASX:ALG).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,304 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 1.7 per cent to US$85.25
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.7 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 70.64 US cents.