Australia's population grows by 1.5%: ASX 0.5% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market rose at the open and is now tracking 0.5 per cent lower at noon. Travel companies are being hit hard with Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT) and Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) seeing their shares fall. Credit Corp (ASX:CCP) shares saw a huge drop of almost 35 per cent. Gains were seen this morning in Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) despite an earthquake near its Kennecott mine near Salt Lake City, in Utah in the US. The Australian dollar hasn’t moved much throughout the morning, still standing at around 57 cents to the US dollar.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 26 points down at 4,927. On the futures market the SPI is 0.4 per cent higher.

Local economic news

Australia's population grew by 1.5 per cent during the year ending 30 September 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Australia's trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.1 per cent in February 2020, for a third consecutive month.

Broker moves

Citi rates Ramsey Healthcare (ASX:RHC) as Upgrade to a Buy from a Neutral.
The company has withdrawn FY20 earnings guidance. Citi considers the debt position strong and, at the other end of this crisis, the relative value of hospital infrastructure will be enhanced. Target price is $75.00 Current Price is $54.44, Shares in Ramsey Healthcare (ASX:RHC) are currently 1.3 per cent higher at $55.17.

Company news

Retail giant Harvey Norman (ASX:HVN) has released its sales figures for the first 17 days of March showing Australian franchisees are up 9.1 per cent on the same comparable period last year. Northern Ireland sales are down 12.4 per cent, Singapore is down 1 per cent while Malaysia is up 19.5 per cent. By Government decree, the Slovenian stores have closed from 16th March 2020 until further notice from the Slovenian Government. The Malaysian stores have closed yesterday til the end of the month and the Croatian store has closed for a period of 30 days. Shares in Harvey Norman (ASX:HVN) are currently 3.5 per cent lower $2.75.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Utilities adding 4.2 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Energy shedding 5.2 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Unibail Rodamco Westfield (ASX:URW) rising 8.3 per cent to $4.68, followed by shares in Amcor (ASX:AMC) and Orocobre(ASX:ORE).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Credit Corp (ASX:CCP) dropping 34.8 per cent to $8.03, followed by shares in Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) and Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,491 an ounce.
Iron ore price is 0.6 per cent up at US$91.71.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 2 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 57.23US cents.