Current account surplus hits $17.7 billion: ASX tracking 1.7% lower

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market dropped at the open and is now tracking 1.7 per cent lower at noon. Shares in Costa Group (ASX:CGC) are on the rise today. Shares in QBE Insurance Group (ASX:QBE) dropped today after the announcement the CEO was stepping down. Shares in Afterpay (ASX:APT) also dropped today.

The S&P/ASX 200 index 

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 102 points down at 5,958. On the futures market the SPI is suggesting a fall of 89 points.

Local economic news

Australia's current account surplus in seasonally adjusted terms increased $8.7 billion to $17.7 billion in the June quarter 2020 despite COVID-19 effects impacted international trade.

The balance on goods and services surplus in the June quarter 2020 was $23.9 billion, a rise of $4.7 billion on the March quarter 2020 surplus of $19.1 billion.

Building approvals rose 12 per cent in July, up from a 4.9 per cent drop in June, and exceeding economist expectations for a 2 per cent slide.

Broker moves

Macquarie rates AGL Energy (ASX:AGL) as an Upgrade to a Neutral from an Underperform. AGL Energy has acquired Click for around $155 million. Macquarie observes Click offers limited strategic value as customers are spread across the eastern seaboard where AGL Energy already has a good position. Churn in this group is naturally higher and the credit risk is elevated, the broker adds. Nevertheless, this is a low-risk acquisition that provides operating earnings upside of around $30m, funded with cash. The target is lifted to $14.98 from $14.65. Shares in AGL Energy (ASX:AGL) are currently 1.1 per cent higher at $14.96.

Company news

Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) welcomes today’s decision by the Queensland Court of Appeal which has dismissed an appeal by customers and has confirmed Aurizon Network’s ability to charge above-regulatory fees under the Wiggins Island Rail (WIRP) Project Deeds. The notices sought to substantially reduce the above-regulatory return component of project revenue that Aurizon Network will receive under the Project Deeds. Aurizon Network was to receive certain payments, which would deliver an above-regulatory return on its investment in the ~$800 million Wiggins Island Rail Project, in return for Aurizon Network agreeing to develop the project on time and for a lower than forecast cost. In June 2019, the Queensland Supreme Court delivered a decision that confirmed Aurizon Network’s ability to charge above-regulatory fees disputed by customers under the WIRP Deeds. In July 2019, an appeal was lodged by customers challenging the Supreme Court decision. Shares in Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) are trading 0.2 per cent lower at $4.34.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Utilities rising 0.1 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Infotech losing 3 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Costa Group Holdings (ASX:CGC) rising 2.6 per cent to $3.55, followed by shares in Bingo Industries (ASX:BIN) and Lendlease (ASX:LLC).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Afterpay (ASX:APT) dropping 6.4 per cent to $85.59, followed by shares in Nine Entertainment Group (ASX:NEC) and QBE Insurance Group (ASX:QBE).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,981 an ounce.
Iron ore price is 0.1 per cent up at US$124.47.
Iron ore futures are suggesting a rise of 0.3 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.00US cents.