The local sharemarket has pushed ahead in the first two hours of trade. The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.7 per cent or 50 points higher at 7063 . On the futures market the SPI is 56 points higher. Challenger surged 11.5 per cent after announcing it expects full year normalised profit after tax to come in around the top range of its prior guidance. Falling behind, Suncorp fell 4.5 per cent after releasing its first half results and Cochlear dropped 4 per cent after slashing its FY20 earnings guidance due to the coronavirus. Beach Energy fell 1.7 per cent after the company reduced its production guidance on the back of weak demand. Having a look at the sectors banks are stronger but miners are falling behind.
Macquarie has upgraded JB Hi-Fi (ASX:JBH) rates JBH to Outperform from Neutral. The investment bank says JB Hi-Fi's first half profit beat consensus by 5 per cent, while full year guidance is also ahead of consensus. All divisions delivered positive comparable sales in the first half. Macquarie also said Improved execution at The Good Guys has the broker becoming more bullish on what had been the company's problem child. Shares in JBH are 1 per cent lower at $44.26.
Transurban (ASX:TCL) reported a 9.5 per cent increase in earnings (EBITDA) to $1.1 billion for the first half of 2020 when compared to the year earlier period. Total revenue increased by 9.2 per cent to $1.4 billion. Statutory net profit decreased to $169 million from $224 million for the same time last year. 25 per cent down on the prior corresponding period. The company declared an interim distribution of 31.0 CPS. The company highlighted its successful project delivery effort over the past 18 months, with five major projects completed and a further two expected to reach completion in mid-2020. Shares in Transurban (ASX:TCL) are trading 1.4 per cent higher at $16.33.
Suncorp Group (ASX:SUN) has reported a 25 per cent fall in its underlying profit during the first half of the financial year from NZ$16 million this time last year to NZ$12 million this year. While group net profit after tax rose 156.8 per cent compared with the previous year. Suncorp said the result was impacted by higher natural hazard costs and lower group net reserve releases.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is telcos, adding 1.6 per cent, while the worst performing sector is energy which is flat. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Challenger(ASX:CGN) rising around 11.5 per cent to $9.89, followed by shares in Steadfast Group (ASX:SDF) and Polynovo (ASX:PNV)
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Beach Energy (ASX: BPT), dropping 3.8 per to $2.28 followed by shares in Treasury Wine Estates (ASX:TWE) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,572 an ounce.
Iron ore down 0.8 per cent to $82.88
Iron ore futures rise 1.4 per cent
One Australian dollar is buying 66.97US cents.