The Australian share market shot up at the open and is now tracking 3.5 per cent higher at noon. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that a COVID-19 coordination commission has been established, which will be headed up by former Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Neville Power. Real Estate Investment Trust is the best performing sector and consumer staples the worst.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 165 points up at 4,901. On the futures market the SPI is 183 points higher.
Local economic news
The trend estimate for the value of total engineering construction work done fell 0.5% in the December quarter.
UBS has upgraded Aurizon Holdings (ASX:AZJ) to a Buy from a Neutral. They believe the transport and logistics company carries a low risk to volumes even in the event of coal mine closures. The network generates a return on its asset base irrespective of volume and the above-rail business is also partially protected from capacity changes representing more than 50 per cent of revenue.In this way, the broker considers Aurizon one of the more defensive companies in the Australian market. Only one coal mine accounts for more than 5 per cent of coal volumes.
Target is $5.55. Shares in Aurizon Holdings (ASX:AZJ) are currently almost 3 per cent higher at $4.15.
The Qantas Group (ASX:QAN) has completed a new round of debt funding, securing $1.05 billion in additional liquidity to strengthen its position as it manages through the Coronavirus outbreak. This debt has been secured against part of the Group’s fleet of unencumbered aircraft which were bought with cash in recent years. The loan has a tenure of up to 10 years at an interest rate of 2.75 per cent. This funding increases the Group’s available cash balance to $2.95 billion with an additional $1 billion undrawn facility remaining available. The Group’s net debt position remains at the low end of its target range, at $5.1 billion, with no major debt maturities until June 2021. Shares in the Qantas Group (ASX:QAN) currently 20.1 per cent higher at $3.11.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is REITs adding 6.2 per cent, while the worst performing sector is consumer staples gaining the least at 1.2 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Afterpay Touch (ASX:APT) rising 23 per cent to $13.79, followed by shares in Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG).
And Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Invocare (ASX:IVC) dropping 16.98 per cent to $9.29, followed by shares in Pinnacle Investment Management Group (ASX:PNI) and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare corp (ASX:FPH).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,625 an ounce.
Iron ore price is 3.6 per cent up at US$83.97.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 3.2 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 59.64US cents.