The Australian share market recorded one of its worst month’s in history - it’s now set to open lower as the coronavirus continues to strike fear in investors. Last night Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tough new 'stage one' restrictions, ordering pubs and licensed premises close for six months. The restrictions also cover places of worship, casinos, restaurants and cafes without takeaway services, nightclubs and registered clubs. The Australian dollar has plunged to its lowest level since October 2002. The dollar fell to 55.08 US cents at the end of last week, ahead of a widely anticipated emergency rate cut from the Reserve Bank, as volatility gripped currency markets.
Wall Street closed lower on Friday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 4.6 per cent to close at 19,174, the S&P 500 lost 4.3 per cent to close at 2305 and the NASDAQ fell 3.8 per cent to 6880.
European markets closed higher on Friday: London’s FTSE added 0.8 per cent, Paris gained over 5 per cent and Frankfurt closed 3.7 per cent higher.
Asian markets closed higher on Friday: Tokyo’s Nikkei was closed, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 5.1 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite gained 1.6 per cent.
Taking all of this into equation, the SPI futures are pointing to 1.8 per cent fall. On Friday, the Australian share market closed 34 points (0.7 per cent) higher at 4817.
Local economic news
The week kicks off on Tuesday with the regular weekly reading on consumer confidence to be published by ANZ and Roy Morgan. Also on Tuesday, CBA will issue early survey data for March on activity in the manufacturing and services sectors. On Wednesday, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment will release the Skilled Vacancies data for February – an important gauge on employment intentions. Wednesday the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases updated data on engineering construction in the December quarter. On Thursday there will be two data releases from the ABS: the Finance and Wealth publication for the December quarter and detailed Labour Force data for February.
AP Eagers (ASX:APE) says given the ongoing uncertainty of the duration and impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the directors have decided to reduce the amount of the fully franked final dividend announced on 27 February 2020 from 22.5 cents per share to 11.25 cents per share. The Board intends to consider payment of an additional dividend of an equivalent amount later in the year, once the level of uncertainty has settled. Non-executive directors have determined to forego their full board fees with immediate effect. Managing Director, Martin Ward, has agreed to an effective 46 per cent reduction in his remuneration package by foregoing all short-term and long-term incentives and reducing his base salary. Shares in AP Eagers (ASX:PDN) closed 2.6 per cent lower at $3.80 on Friday.
Cedar Woods Properties Limited (ASX:CWP) is paying 12.5 cents fully franked
Opticomm Ltd (ASX:OPC) is paying 3.6 cents fully franked
Pengana Private (ASX:PE1) is paying 1.25 cents unfranked
One Australian Dollar at 7:40 AM was buying 58.06 US cents, 49.72 Pence Sterling, 64.29 Yen and 54.25 Euro cents.
Iron Ore has dropped 3.7 per cent to US$87.98
Iron Ore futures suggest a 0.53 per cent gain.
Gold added $5.80 to US$1488 an ounce.
Silver has gained $0.25 cents to US$12.39 an ounce.
Oil has fallen $3.28 to US$22.63 a barrel.