Profits fall as salaries rise in the December quarter: ASX tracking 1.5% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market opened higher, the S&P/ASX 200 index is 101 points up or 1.5 per cent higher at 6,775. On the futures market the SPI is 110 points higher. Shares in Growthpoint Properties Australia (ASX:GOZ) rose today as they sold two properties in Sydney.

Local economic news

New loan commitments for housing rose 10.5 per cent to $28.8 billion in January 2021 (seasonally adjusted), reaching another record high, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released today. Business indicators show company gross operating profits fell 6.6 per cent seasonally adjusted and wages and salaries rose 1.4 per cent seasonally adjusted for the December quarter.

The Reserve Bank increase bond purchases from $2 billion to $4 billion.

Broker moves

Credit Suisse rates Austal (ASX:ASB) as an Upgrade to an Outperform from a Neutral. Austal's first-half revenue was below Credit Suisse's expectations although the result beat the broker's operating income forecast, primarily driven by stronger-than-expected margin expansion in the US business. Target price is $2.75. Shares in Austal (ASX:ASB) are trading 6.3 per cent higher at $2.52.

Company news

Creso Pharma (ASX:CPH) has executed a non-binding letter of intent with leading CBD and plant-based remedies provider CERES Natural Remedies. They will distribute and sell Creso’s range of CBD and hemp animal health products anibidiol®, in the USA. CERES has three traditional retail stores in Vermont and access to over 50,000 distribution outlets across the country. Shares in Creso Pharma (ASX:CPH) are currently 2.4 per cent lower at $0.21.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trust, adding 3.8 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Materials, shedding 0.6 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Service Stream ASX:SSM), rising 6.5 per cent to $1.23, followed by shares in Austal (ASX:ASB) and Growthpoint Properties Australia (ASX:GOZ).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG), dropping 6 per cent to $22.66, followed by shares in Westgold Resources (ASX:WGX) and Silver lake Resources (ASX:SLR).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,740 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 0.9 per cent to US$175.78.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 1.1 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.47 US cents.

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