Pilbara Minerals charge higher today: ASX closes 0.7% higher

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

It has been a positive day of trade for the Australian share market. After dipping in the red this morning the local bourse managed to gain momentum and started to rise after lunchtime trade, and closed 0.7 per cent higher. Shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) shot up over 10 per cent today as they announced commercial production is due to start at the Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project. They are also considering the sale of a minority interest of between 20 per cent to 49 per cent in the project.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 40 points up to finish at 6,176.

Futures

Dow futures are suggesting a loss of 70 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a fall of 8 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a loss of 21 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a lift of 48 points for tomorrow morning

Local economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates for the job market for February indicate vacancies increased by 1.1 per cent over the quarter. Over the year there was growth but it was slower than in 2018. For the year, job vacancies increased by 9.2 per cent. Meantime, the ABS’ ‘Finance and Wealth’ estimates for the December quarter, show households invested $45.9b, up $3.2b from the previous quarter. The increase was driven by a build-up of farm inventories, typical for this time of the year. Dwelling investment though was weak. National investment increased $9.2b in December quarter to a record high of $123.5b.

Company news 

Engineering company the Monadelphous Group (ASX:MND) been awarded a second construction contract, valued at $104 million, at BHP’s South Flank Project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The contract includes structural, mechanical, piping and electrical and instrumentation works associated with the project’s inflow infrastructure. It brings the total value of work secured by Monadelphous on this project to $212 million. Shares in Monadelphous Group (ASX:MND) trading 0.2 per cent lower at $17.39

Real estate group Dexus (ASX:DXS) confirm they are in the early stages of exclusive due diligence to acquire development precinct 80, Collins Street in Melbourne. It's owned by the Queensland government's investment arm, QIC. The cost of the spend could be up to $1.4 billion, one of the biggest commercial real estate deals of recent times.

A major uncertainty regarding IPH's (ASX:IPH) proposed acquisition of intellectual property business Xenith IP (ASX:XIP) Group has been resolved as the ACCC confirms they will not oppose the merger. But as previously announced, Xenith still has a number of concerns with IPH about its proposal and will keep the market updated on any progress.

Pact Group Holdings (ASX:PGH) has appointed Sanjay Dayal as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. He joins Pact most recently from BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL) where he held the position of Chief Executive, Building Products, Corporate Strategy and Innovation.

Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was consumer discretionary adding 1.3 per cent while the worst performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trust, adding 0.02 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), rising 15 per cent to close at $0.81. Shares in Mayne Pharma Group (ASX:MYX) and TPG Telecom (ASX:TPM) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Eclipx Group (ASX:ECX), dropping 4.3 per cent to close at $0.67. Shares in Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Platinum Asset Management (ASX:PTM) followed lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei shed 1.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.03 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.3 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,311 an ounce.
Iron ore price dropped 0.1 per cent to US$85.11
Iron ore futures are eyeing a fall of 0.3 per cent.
Light crude is $0.54 lower at US$59.40 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.00 US cents.