High court dismisses Westpac appeal on financial advice: ASX tracking 1% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The local sharemarket is up 1 per cent or 70 point higher to 6,833. The SPI futures point to a rise of 77 points. Amcor (ASX:AMC) shares did well today after they upgraded their earnings and lifted their dividend today.

Local economic news

ABS

Living costs rose for all households
The seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved rose 10.9% in December. The surge in building activity is set to continue.

Broker moves

Credit Suisse rates BHP (ASX:BHP) as a Downgrade to a Neutral from an Outperform. The broker prefers Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) over BHP Group given there is more optimism surrounding iron ore in the broker's commodity deck and Rio has a higher earnings exposure to iron ore. Target price is raised to $42.00 from $40. Shares in BHP (ASX:BHP) are currently 1.9 per cent lower at $44.24.

Company news

Westpac (ASX:WBC) acknowledges today’s decision by the High Court of Australia which has dismissed Westpac’s appeal in relation to proceedings brought by ASIC about the provision of financial product advice. This decision relates to proceedings brought back in 2016 against Westpac Securities Administration Limited and BT Funds Management Limited. The appeal related to calls to 14 customers concerning the rollover of their external superannuation accounts. The High Court found that Westpac had provided “personal advice” on these calls and in doing so had breached certain provisions of the Corporations Act. The proceedings will now be remitted to the Federal Court of Australia for a hearing on penalties. Shares in Westpac (ASX:WBC) are trading 1.9 per cent higher at $21.83.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trust gaining 2.4 per cent while the sector trailing behind is Materials shedding 0.5 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Virgin Money (ASX:VUK) rising 16.1 per cent to $2.85, followed by shares in Credit Corp Group (ASX:CCP) and Amcor (ASX:AMC).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is South32 (ASX:S32) dropping 4.1 per cent to $2.68, followed by shares in Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) and BHP Group (ASX:BHP).

Commodities

Gold is trading at US$1,842 an ounce.
Iron ore is 4.6 per cent lower at $149.80.
Futures are suggesting a fall of 0.9 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 76.17US.