Retail sales have risen 7.1% in November: ASX tracking 0.5% lower

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian sharemarket opened lower this morning. The S&P/ASX 200 Index is 31 points down or 0.5 per cent lower at 6,727. Futures are pointing to a fall of 34 points.

Local Economic News

Retail sales have risen 7.1 per cent in November, surprising market expectations.

Broker call

Citi rates Costa Group (ASX:CGC) as a Downgrade to a Neutral from a Buy. While the analysts believe Costa Group remains well-positioned amidst rising prices and better growing conditions, elevated supply for blueberries continues to provide offset. The broker points out Costa Group has responded by changing the mix in berries it produces. Earnings estimates have risen. The analysts are now cautious about further prospects for sustained earnings upgrades. Target price is $4.30. Shares in Costa Group (ASX:CGC) are currently 3.96 per cent lower at $4.12.

Company news

Strike Energy (ASX:STX) is pleased to announce the launch of Project Haber, a Mid-West ammonia and urea manufacturing facility, which comes after a year of feasibility studies. The $2.3 billion is near Geraldton in Western Australia. The project would be fed with gas from Strike's Perth Basin resources. Project Haber will consume 86 terajoules of gas a day. Shares in Strike Energy (ASX:STX) are trading 4.6 per cent higher at $0.34.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Energy adding 2.5 per cent while the sector trailing behind is Information Technology losing 2.2 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) rising 4.6 per cent to $25.96, followed by shares in Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) and Santos (ASX:STO).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) dropping 7.5 per cent to $1.20, followed by shares in WestGold Resources (ASX:WGX) and Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR).

Commodities

Gold is trading at US$1,832 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.8 per cent higher at $173.06..
Futures are suggesting a fall of 2.5 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.13US.