The Aussie share market lost ground early in the session and continued to lose momentum throughout the day to end 0.3 per cent lower. Preliminary retails trade figures for December were released today. They indicate that Christmas trade was not as strong as the market had hoped. Meanwhile, Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC) was a standout performer, shooting up over 13 per cent today after securing a deal with the US government.
The S&P/ASX200 index
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 23 points lower to finish at 6,800.
Over the week, the market has gained 85 points or 1.3 per cent.
Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 87 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a dip of 9 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a fall of 37 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 42 point fall on Monday morning.
Preliminary figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that retail sales dropped 4.2 per cent in December. The market was expecting a drop, but only of 2.5 per cent. This comes on the back of a 7.1 per cent rise in November. Turnover rose 9.4 per cent in December compared to the same time the previous year.
Credit Suisse has downgraded the Star Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR) from an outperform to a neutral, with a price target of $3.85. The broker reduced the company’s earnings forecast for the 2021 financial year. Credit Suisse expects a major decrease in operating costs. During the 2019 financial year operating costs were around $78 million per month. It anticipated the company to cut costs down to $75 million per month in the 2022 financial year. Shares in Star Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR) closed 0.8 per cent lower at $3.65.
Shares in Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC) jumped over 13 per cent today after the company inked a deal with the US government to build a commercial light rare earths separation plant in Texas through its subsidiary, Lynas USA. Lynas expects Department of Defense funding to be capped at approximately US$30 million and says it will be expected to contribute approximately US$30 million itself. Lynas CEO and managing director, Amanda Lacaze, says “as the only non-Chinese commercial producer of separated rare earths products to the global marketplace, Lynas is delighted by the opportunity to develop a light rare earth separation facility in the United States." Rare earth materials are vital inputs to many industrial supply chains, including electronics, electric vehicles and defence systems. Shares in Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC) closed 13.7 per cent higher at $5.56.
Funtastic (ASX:FUN) today announced the sale of its confectionery business to Sweet Season Pty Ltd for $1.05 million. This follows Funtastic’s acquisition of the Hobby Warehouse Group, which includes e-ommerce businesses Toys”R”Us, Babies”R”Us and Hobby Warehouse. The most recent sale is in line with the strategic intent to transform the business by overhauling existing portfolios; introducing new products; expanding its e-commerce focus; and exploring inorganic growth opportunities in emerging growth sectors. It expects the sale to be finalised before 31 January 2021. Shares in Funtastic (ASX:FUN) closed 7.7 per cent lower at $0.12.
Perenti Global (ASX:PRN) has secure over $307 million in new work and contract extensions through its hard rock underground mining business, Barminco and its drilling services provider, Ausdrill.
Jupiter Mines (ASX:JMS) has announced the demerger and initial public offering of its Central Yilgarn Iron Ore assets through its newly created company, Juno Minerals.
A new sub fund of Beacon Lighting Group (ASX:BLX) has inked a deal to buy a commercial showroom property in Beckenham in Western Australia.
Amaysim Australia (ASX:AYS) shareholders have voted in favour of selling the mobile business to Optus.
Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX:CCL) has released a trading update for the fourth quarter of 2020. Group volume was down 5.4 per cent compared to the prior quarter.
Wrapped up our four trading days this week higher: The Dow Jones added 1.2 per cent, The S&P 500 added 2.2 per cent and the tech heavy Nasdaq gained 3.9 per cent.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector was Health Care, adding 1.5 per cent, while the worst-performing sector was Information Technology, losing 2.1 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC), rising 13.7 per cent to close at $5.56. Shares in Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (ASX:FPH) and South32 (ASX:S32) followed.
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW), dropping 6.8 per cent to close at $4.42. Shares in Afterpay (ASX:APT) and Perpetual (ASX:PPT) followed.
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.4 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 1.5 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.7 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,863 an ounce.
Iron ore gained 0.6 per cent to US$171.51.
Its futures are pointing to a rise of 0.99 per cent.
Light crude is 58 cents lower at US$50.13 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.45 US cents.