Australian retail rises 0.5 per cent: Aus shares flat at 0.04% at noon

Market Reports

by Ortenzia Borre

The Australian share market opened higher this morning following strong leads from the Energy sector and is now trading flat at 0.04 per cent. Oil Search (ASX:EML) is leading the top 200 gains at midday, up over 10 per cent, with JB Hi-Fi (ASX:JBH) coming in last. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 2 points up at 5,156. On the futures market the SPI is 6 points up.

Local economic news

Australian retail turnover rose 0.5 per cent in February 2020 according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures.

Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, Ben James, said retailers reported a range of impacts from the COVID-19 crisis in February with increases in food retailing slightly offset by falls in more discretionary spending.

There were rises for food retailing (0.8 per cent), department stores (3.1 per cent), household goods retailing (0.7 per cent), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.2 per cent), and other retailing (0.2 per cent). These rises were partially offset by a fall in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-2.9 per cent),

The increase in food retailing sales is supported by additional analysis conducted by the ABS to enhance the understanding of the economic impacts of COVID-19, which showed significant rises in supermarket purchases in February 2020, especially around essential grocery items.

Broker moves

Morgans has rated Adelaide Brighton (ASX:ABC) as an Add. The company has withdrawn its earnings guidance because of the uncertain duration and impact of the COVID-19 crisis although the building materials company is continuing to progress with cost reductions, and capital expenditure plans are being reviewed. The final 2019 dividend is also still expected to be paid on April 28. The broker continues to believe 2020 will be a cyclical low point in the earnings cycle and demand from mining and infrastructure markets will support a return to earnings growth in 2021. Add rating maintained. Target is reduced to $2.85 from $3.30. Shares in Adelaide Brighton (ASX:ABC) are trading 1.94 per cent lower at $2.02 at noon.

Company news

Information Technology company Hansen Technologies (ASX:HSN) has today withdrawn its earnings guidance for the 2020 financial year. Despite Hansen performing as expected for the second half of FY20, the company says it is uncertain to what extent that revenue from projects and new customer wins will slow over the period. Hansen is the latest in a long list of companies to withdraw guidance following market uncertainty amid the current COVID-19 crisis.
The company says recurring revenues they derive from customer relationships provides Hansen with a solid revenue foundation to deal with the pandemic and at the present time do not expect recurring revenues to be significantly impacted. Shares in Hansen Technologies (ASX:HSN) are trading 1.1 per cent lower at $2.81.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Energy, adding 4.1 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Consumer Discretionary shedding 2.6 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Oil Search (ASX:OSH), rising 10.9 per cent to $2.90, followed by shares in NRW Holdings (ASX:NWH) and Worley (ASX:WOR).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is JB Hi-Fi (ASX:JBH) dropping 7.8 per cent to $29.24, followed by shares in AP Eagers (ASX:APE) and Sky City (ASX:SKC).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,611 an ounce.
Iron ore price is up 1.5 per cent to US$83.72
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.76 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 60.51 US cents.