ASX rallies: Aus shares close 3.1 per cent higher

Market Reports

by Ortenzia Borre

The Australian share market closed 3.1 per cent higher at the end of today’s session recovering early trade losses in what was feared to spark another week of panic selling before the rally. Investors were buying up Energy stocks today with Viva Energy Group (ASX:VEA) leading the top 200 gains and Ooh! Media (ASX:OML) coming in last.

The S&P/ASX200 index

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 179 points higher to finish at 5,940.

Futures market 

Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 672 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a rise of 99 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a lift of 313 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 222 point rise tomorrow morning

Local economic news

National Australia Bank released its February business survey showing both confidence and conditions declined with half of respondents reporting they’ve been impacted by the coronavirus.

According to NAB Group Chief Economist, Alan Oster, says conditions and confidence fell in the month, but not by as much as was feared. Both continue to track below average and with forward orders weakening its likely we could see further deterioration. Mr Oster added the softening in conditions was broad-based across industries with retail and wholesale being the exception but remain soft overall. The services sectors and construction remain most favourable but a softening in confidence, particularly for rec & personal could see this change.

Broker moves

Citi has rated James Hardie Industries (ASX:JHX) as a Buy. The broker says, given defensive revenue drivers and global stimulus measures are underway, Citi believes an opportunity is emerging and James Hardie remains a preferred exposure. Having executed the first year of its three-year strategy amid a recovering US housing market, the broker expects high double-digit growth in earnings per share. Citi reiterates a Buy rating and $36 target. Shares in James Hardie Industries (ASX:JHX) closed 2.4 per cent higher at $26.25.

Company news

Qantas (ASX:QAN) has made further cuts to international flights, reducing capacity by almost a quarter for the next six months. The latest cuts follow the spread of the Coronavirus into Europe and North America, as well as its continued spread throughout Asia. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, said the airline has seen a sharp drop in bookings on their international network in the past fortnight as the global coronavirus spread continues with the company expecting lower demand to continue for the next several months. The additional changes will bring the total international capacity reduction for Qantas and Jetstar from 5 per cent to 23 per cent versus the same time last year. Shares in Qantas (ASX:QAN) are closed 7.2 per cent higher at $4.45.

Looking at some more headlines:

Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) will evaluate its stem cell therapy remestemcel-L for the treatment of coronavirus. The Anthony Pratt backed biotech company today announced its plans for the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) in the United States, Australia, China and Europe, with the company in active discussions with various government and regulatory authorities.

EBOS Group (ASX:EBO) start the search for a new CFO

SeaLink Travel Group (ASX:SLK) see additional contracts for SA transport.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Financials up 4.7 per cent while the worst performing sector was A-REIT, shedding over 1.2 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Viva Energy Group (ASX:VEA), rising 13.8 per cent to close at $1.61. Shares in NRW Holdings (ASX:NWH) and South32 (ASX:S32) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Ooh! Media (ASX:OML), falling 5.2 per cent to close at $1.84. Shares in Charter Hall Group (ASX:CHC) and Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) followed.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite added 1.5 per cent. 

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,659 an ounce. 
Iron ore price fell 2.5 per cent to US$87.96. Its futures are pointing to a rise of 3.8 per cent.
Light crude is US$2.32 up at US$33.45 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 65.58 US cents.