Energy sector gains not enough to push ASX into positive territory: Aus shares close flat

Market Reports

by Michael Luu

The local share market fluctuated between positive and negative territories today. The major energy stocks, Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment helped to push the ASX into the green this afternoon but financials weighed on the broader market throughout the session pulling the market lower at the close. Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) was the day’s star performer rising, 20 per cent after the company confirmed it has been in talks with Las Vegas giant, Wynn Resorts regarding a potential $10 billion takeover. The major miners posted a strong performance led by BHP (ASX:BHP), Rio (ASX:RIO) and Fortescue (ASX:FMG). The gains come on the back of the iron ore price trading near five-year highs as a potential production shortfall emerges from Brazil and Australia.

The S&P/ASX200 index:

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed flat to finish at 6222.

Futures market:

Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 50 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a dip of 4 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a fall of 7 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 2 point fall for tomorrow morning 

Economic news

Household lending figures for February have beaten market expectations rising 2.6 per cent against consensus of a 1 per cent drop, and, following a 2.3 per cent fall in January. Owner-occupier loan value climbed 3.4 per cent, well ahead of a 1 per cent expected increase. Despite the rise in February, the longer term story is largely unchanged with new lending to households remaining subdued and well down on levels seen over the past five years.

Company news

Telstra (ASX:TLS) has today announced former Group Executive of Consumer and Small Business, Vicki Brady will take over the role of CFO and Head of Strategy. She will start in the new role on July 1, while Acting Group Executive Michael Ackland is to be permanently appointed to lead the Consumer and Small Business function. Shares in Telstra (ASX:TLS) closed 0.9 per cent higher at $3.30.

Litigation Funder, IMF Bentham (ASX:IMF) has responded to reports in the Courier Mail regarding the Brisbane floods class action. IMF says the article is based on part of a communication from Maurice Blackburn lawyers to their client group members and makes a number of comments about matters which are confidential. IMF says the remaining part of the communication does not require disclosure as per the listing rules. The article also asserted a decision in the compensation cases is expected mid-year. But, IMF has clarified the statement stating if these investments do not settle prior to judgement, completion may slip to FY20. Shares in IMF Bentham (ASX:IMF) closed 1.2 per cent higher at $2.59.

Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) has confirmed they are in takeover talks with Las Vegas giant, Wynn Resorts. The proposal contemplates an acquisition of Crown by Wynn via scheme of arrangement for a combination of cash and Wynn shares at an implied value of $14.75 per share. Shares in Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) jumped by 21.6 per cent to $14.28 after the company emerged from a trading halt on the ASX this morning.

Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) has responded to media reports about its discussions with the Malaysian Government regarding its proposal to acquire Lynas (ASX:LYC). The conglomerate says it is disappointed at the mischaracterisation of its discussions with the Malaysian Government and rejects any inference that these were inappropriate or intended to interfere with Government process. The announcement comes after comments made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday about the continuation of Lynas' Malaysian operations. Lynas has since announced its intention to shift part of its initial processing plant to Western Australia.

Santos (ASX:STO) has today announced the successful completion of the first phase of its Moomba South appraisal campaign in the Cooper Basin. The program has also successfully targeted two exciting new plays in the Granite Wash and Fractured Granite which have the potential to add significant new resources. Santos says it is investing in the Cooper Basin to find more gas for the east coast domestic market.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has approved the next stage in the development of Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa through the construction of the Zulti South project. The $463 million investment will sustain RBM’s current capacity and extend mine life. Rio Tinto has held a 74 per cent stake in RBM since 2012 and manages the operation.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Energy adding over 2 per cent while the worst performing sector was Utilities, shedding 0.5 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN), rising 19.7 per cent to close at $14.05. Shares in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Star Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), dropping 4.8 per cent to close at $0.70. Shares in Dominos Pizza Enterprises (ASX:DMP) and Sims Metals Management (ASX:SGM) followed lower.

Asian markets

Mixed: Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.6 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,298 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 2.6 per cent to US$95.30.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.1 per cent.
Light crude is US $1.38 up at US $64.46 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.35 US cents.


Michael Luu

Finance News Network
Michael joined FNN in December 2017 with a passion for creativity and TV production. Possessing over four years of international experience in broadcasting, he has hosted, edited and produced video content for Vietnam’s national broadcaster VTV, Germany’s DWTV and the APEC Summit. Michael is also a freelance videographer and casual correspondent for VTV in Australia.