Qantas helps local shares push to flat: Aus shares 0.1% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Anna Napoli

The Australian share market opened lower this morning following weak leads from the US but has gained some momentum and is now edging into positive territory in the second hour of trade. Most sectors are in the green as the session progresses with healthcare, industrials and consumer staples leading the gains. The resource sectors are the main check on the broader market with some heavy falls for base metal prices and crude oil. Shares in Qantas have jumped almost 4 per cent after the company announced yesterday that it is in a position to enter the MSCI Index. Meantime, shares in Southern Cross Media have plunged over 20 per cent after the company released a disappointing trading update. The S&P/ASX200 is tracking 0.1 per cent higher at noon at 6651. On the futures market the SPI is 2 points higher.

Broker moves

Afterpay Touch (ASX:APT) is among best performing stocks on the ASX 200 in early trade after Morgan Stanley commenced coverage on the company with an 'overweight' rating and a price target of $44 more than 20 per cent above its Monday close price of $36.10. Shares in Afterpay (ASX:APT) are trading 2.3 per cent higher at $36.94.

Meanwhile, Citi has downgraded oil and gas giant Santos (ASX:STO) to equal-weight from overweight with a target price of $8.80. Citi says Santos has paid a fair price for ConocoPhillips' Northern Australian assets, but the broker anticipates a sell-down of some of the stake to align its interests across the NT. Shares in Santos (ASX:STO)  are trading 2 per cent lower at $7.69.

Company news

Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG) has announced a $190 million equity raising with net proceeds to be used to repay debt and enabling it to open to open a new $75.5 million debt facility. The company says that a combination of an equity raising and restructure of the Company’s existing debt facilities represents the most appropriate course of action to improve the Company’s balance sheet, and provide management a stable platform to drive ongoing improvement initiatives. Shares in Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG) are trading 17.7 per cent lower at 14 cents.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is healthcare, adding 1 per cent, while the worst performing sector is materials, shedding 1.14 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Jumbo (ASX:JIN), rising 4.3 per cent to $27.81, followed by shares Qantas (ASX:QAN) and Cooper Energy (ASX:COE).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Southern Cross Media Holdings (ASX:SXL), dropping 20.4 per cent to $92 cents, followed by shares in Nine (ASX:NEC) and Orocobre (ASX:ORE).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,492 an ounce.
Iron ore has dropped 2.4 per cent to US$91.49.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 2.6 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 67.78 US cents.