UK in 'lockdown' due to national emergency: ASX poised to open higher

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market looks set to open higher despite Wall Street's slide deepening yesterday as coronavirus forced more US states into lockdown. Over in the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced a ban on people leaving their homes except for food, medical treatment, daily exercise or travel to 'essential' work. Police have powers to issue fines to those flouting the rules. The death toll in the UK from coronavirus has risen to 335. The Australian dollar is failing to remain steady after falling during trading yesterday. It saw a rise as the Federal Reserve suggested that it is going to buy plenty of assets, trying to lift the market overall. It’s fluctuating between around 56 cents and 58 cents to the American dollar. On the commodities front, iron ore plunged and gold shot up.

Local economic news 

CBA will issue early survey data for March on activity in the manufacturing and services sectors

 Wall Street closed lower yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 3 per cent to close at 18,591, the S&P 500 shed 2.9 per cent to 2237 and the NASDAQ dropped 0.3 per cent to 6861.

European markets closed lower: London’s FTSE dropped 3.8 per cent, Paris fell 3.32 per cent and Frankfurt shed up 2.1 per cent.

Asian markets closed mixed: Tokyo’s Nikkei gained over 2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 4.9 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite was down over 3 per cent.

¬Taking all of this into equation, the SPI futures are pointing to a 0.9 per cent gain.

Yesterday, the Australian share market closed 5.62 per cent lower at 4546.

Company news 

Michael Hill International (ASX:MHJ) says in the interests of the health and safety of our people and our customerstthey will suspend operations of its Australian store network for an indefinite period with immediate effect. The Company’s New Zealand store network will also be suspended indefinitely with immediate effect. Their Canadian store network was suspended on 20 March – this will now be for an indefinite period. The Company’s e-commerce business will continue. On 25 February, the Company announced an interim dividend of 1.5c per share, with an ex-dividend date of 12 March 2020. In light of expected interruptions to trade in all our markets, the Board has decided to defer payment of that dividend for a period of six months – this decision will be reviewed again prior to 30 September. Shares in Michael Hill International (ASX:MHJ) closed 21.43 per cent lower at $0.28 yesterday.

Ex-Dividends

Brisbane Broncos (ASX:BBL) is paying 1 cent fully franked
Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) is paying 160 cents fully franked
Kelly Partners Group (ASX:KPG) is paying 1.21 cents fully franked
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW) is paying 32.7604 cents unfranked
Viva Energy Group (ASX:VEA) is paying 2.6 cents fully franked

Currencies

One Australian Dollar at 7:45 AM was buying 58.18 US cents, 50.46 Pence Sterling, 64.72 Yen and 54.21 Euro cents.

Commodities

Iron Ore has fallen 7.9 per cent to $81.07.
Iron Ore futures suggest a 5.9 per cent fall.
Gold has gained $78.30 to US$1566.40 an ounce.
Silver has added $0.89 to US$13.28 an ounce.
Oil was up $1.21 to US$23.84 a barrel.