The Australian share market opened slightly lower defying positive leads from international markets. It has however managed to gain ground early in the session and is tracking 1.1 per cent higher at midday. All of the sectors except Healthcare have advanced this morning.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 64 points or 1.1 per cent higher at 5,882. On the futures market the SPI is 73 points higher.
Citi rates the A2 Milk Company (ASX:A2M) as a buy, with a 12-month price target of $21.50. The company’s sales promotion has performed well helping to resolve excess inventory. While the sale is positive for brand awareness and market share, the broker remains concerned about the weaker margins associated with the strategy. Citi also notes that a resurgence of Chinese brands remains a key risk. Shares in the A2 Milk Company (ASX:A2M) are trading 0.9 per cent higher at $18.28 at noon.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking special leave to appeal to the High Court disputing the decision of the Full Federal Court that Pacific National’s acquisition of the Acacia Ridge terminal from Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) would not be likely to substantially lessen competition. Pacific National is the largest provider of intermodal rail freight services in Australia. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says “We believe that the Full Federal Court’s decision does not recognise the full impact of the proposed acquisition on competition in this vitally important industry. Competition depends on rivals having the chance to compete. While no one can predict the future, we do know that, with this acquisition, the barriers to entry would become effectively insurmountable and Pacific National’s near monopoly as the dominant rail freight carrier on the east coast would be entrenched.” If the ACCC is granted special leave to appeal, this would be the first time the High Court has ever considered Australia’s merger laws. Shares in Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) are trading 0.8 per cent lower at $4.75 at noon.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Financial, adding 2.6 per cent, while the worst performing and the only sector in the red at noon is Healthcare, shedding 0.6 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is IOOF Holdings (ASX:IFL), rising 10.8 per cent to $5.23, followed by shares in AMP (ASX:AMP) and Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Qantas (ASX:QAN),dropping 7.4 per cent to $3.88, followed by shares in Orocobre (ASX:ORE) and Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST).
Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gone 0.1 per cent in the other direction and the Shanghai Composite is closed.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,762 an ounce.
The Iron ore price is steady at US$103.34.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.1 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 68.86 US cents.