Retail turnover rises 8.5% in March: ASX 1.1% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market dropped at the open and is now tracking 1.1 per cent lower at noon. Nearmap (ASX:NEA) shares are on the rise as are Domain Holdings (ASX:DHG). The Australian dollar has risen to US64.33 cents. As for the sectors, utilities is up and financials down.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 58 points down at 5,349. On the futures market the SPI is 55 points lower.

Local economic news

Retail sales rose by 8.5 per cent in March, up from the 0.6 per cent increase in February, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Panic buying ahead of COVID-19 lockdowns spurred a huge increase in consumer activity.

Broker moves

UBS rates Collins Foods (ASX:CKF) as an Upgrade to a Buy from a Neutral.
They see the company's KFC Australia business appears to be one of the better performing fast food operations during this pandemic. The business was an early beneficiary from the easing of lock-down restrictions. It is also likely to be a beneficiary of domestic car-based holiday activity when this resumes. Target price is $8.95. Shares in Collins Foods (ASX:CKF) are trading flat at $7.68.

Company news

Testing, inspection & certification business ALS (ASX:ALQ) reports less than 10 per cent of their global laboratory network has been adversely impacted by regional and national economic shutdowns due to COVID-19. Several of the affected sites have subsequently reopened after being designated as an ‘essential business’. Some of these shutdown economies are now starting to reopen. ALS is also in the final stages of developing new real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits for detection of the COVID-19 virus in human and on surface samples. Shares in ALS (ASX:ALQ) are currently 0.2 per cent lower at $6.79.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Utilities gaining 0.04 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Financials losing 1.8 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nearmap (ASX:NEA) rising 6.6 per cent to $1.61, followed by shares in EML Payments (ASX:EML) and Domain Holdings (ASX:DHG).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is National Storage REIT (ASX:NSR) dropping 5.5 per cent to $1.60, followed by shares in NRW Holdings (ASX:NWH) and Cooper Energy (ASX:COE).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei is still closed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.5 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite has lost 0.4 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,704 an ounce.
Iron ore price is flat at US$84.04
Iron ore futures are suggesting a rise of 0.6 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 64.33US cents.