Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) to evaluate stem cell therapy for COVID-19: Aus drop 0.4% at noon

Market Reports

by Ortenzia Borre

The Australian share market opened lower again this this morning dropping 0.4 per cent at noon. Overnight, the Dow entered into an emergency 15 minute trading halt to prevent panic selling after it went into freefall. Adding to the global outbreak fears, an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia have compounded the international economy as oil plunged on the commodities front but this morning investors were buying up energy stocks with the sector leading the indexes at midday. The S&P/ASX 200 index is 22 points lower at 5,739. On the futures market the SPI is 37 points higher.

Broker moves

UBS has downgraded Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) to a Neutral from a Buy. Despite the difficulties in assessing the quantum and duration of the coronavirus epidemic, UBS believes there is enough evidence to reduce media forecasts based on the negative impact on consumer & business confidence, and industry risk stemming from cancelled advertising. The broker now assumes a -10% decline in the second half in both the metro free-to-air TV and radio markets. Seven West is downgraded to Neutral from Buy, given heightened refinancing risk, while there is limited visibility on asset sales. Target is reduced to $0.12 from $0.30. Shares in Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) are trading flat at 12 cents at noon.

Company news

Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) will evaluate its stem cell therapy remestemcel-L for the treatment of coronavirus. The Anthony Pratt backed biotech company today announced that it plans to evaluate its allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) in the United States, Australia, China and Europe, with the company in active discussions with various government and regulatory authorities. Remestemcel-L is being studied in numerous clinical trials across several inflammatory conditions, including in elderly patients with lung disease. Shares in Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) are trading 22.4 per cent higher at $2.24 at noon.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Energy, adding 3.6 per cent, while the worst performing sector is A-REIT, shedding 2.6 per cent. Real estate ivestmebt fund

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Jumbo Interactive (ASX:JIN), rising 8.3 per cent to $9.03, followed by shares in Webjet (ASX:WEB) and Bapcor (ASX:BAP).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Pendal Group (ASX:PDL),dropping 6.1 per cent to $5.16, followed by shares in Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR) and Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading lower at US$1,666 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 2.5 per cent to US$87.96
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.5 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 65.95 US cents.