Record trade surplus of $10.14 billion in January: ASX closes 0.8% lower

Market Reports

by Melissa Darmawan

It's been a mixed day on the Australian share market. The market opened lower following weak leads from the US and managed a small recovery before closing 0.8 per cent lower. Gains in the Financial and A-REIT sectors were overtaken by losses from the rest of the market with the biggest losers being in the Healthcare and Materials sectors. Banks led the gains, along with QBE (ASX:QBE) which rose 2.8 per cent on the back of the appointment of a new CEO. The market was dragged down by major players going ex-dividend with CSL (ASX:CSL) down over 4 per cent, BHP (ASX:BHP) down over 3 per cent and RIO (ASX:RIO) sinking 6.23 per cent as record level dividends are set to be paid out. Additionally, tech stocks were sold off heavily this morning in response to US investors' concerns over rising bond yields.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 57 points lower, or 0.8 per cent lower to finish at 6,761.

Futures market

Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 98 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a fall of 20 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing fall of 104 points.
ASX200 futures are eyeing a 26 point fall tomorrow.

Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released data on international and retail trade.

Australia's trade surplus increased to $10.14 billion in January 2021 from $7.13 billion in December. This was the largest trade surplus on record as more countries reopen their economies following an easing of Covid-19 lockdowns.

Exports climbed 6 percent to a ten-month high of $39.85 billion while imports fell 2 percent to a three-month low of $29.71 billion.

Retail sales in Australia rose by 0.5 per cent month-on-month in January following a 4.1 per cent drop in December. Australian turnover rose 10.6 per cent compared to January 2020.

Company news

Gaming and entertainment group, Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) has been informed by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation that their seventh casino license review has been put on hold. This is due to the Victorian Government establishing a royal commission into Crown Melbourne's suitability to hold a gaming licence in the state and last month. Shares in Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) closed 0.4 per cent higher at $9.96.

Waste management company, Cleanaway Waste (ASX:CWY) went into a trading halt this afternoon and released a statement around discussions with French utility company, Suez to acquire their Australian operations, if the opportunity opens to sell the business. Shares in Cleanaway Waste (ASX:CWY) closed at 4.02 per cent higher at $2.33.

Synlait Milk (ASX:SM1) is withdrawing its full year 2021 guidance due to the continuing significant uncertainty and volatility within its business.

Accounting software provider Xero (ASX:XRO) is set to acquire workforce management platform, Planday for $284.5 million. Planday is a cloud based platform headquartered in Denmark which will integrate with Xero for staffing needs and payroll costs that can be accessed on a mobile app.

Department store Myer (ASX:MYR) report a rise of 76.3 per cent in their statutory profit after tax of $43 million, up from $24.4 million reported a year ago. The company's total sales dropped 13.1 per cent to $1.4 billion mainly due to store closures while online sales grew 71 per cent to $287.6 million representing 21 per cent of total sales.

Motor vehicle accessories company ARB Corporation (ASX:ARB) is set to acquire a leading auto styling company in the UK called the Truckman Group for $39.3 million. Truckman manufactures and distributes utility accessories and will provide ARB with exposure into Europe’s largest utility vehicle market.

Healthcare company, Healius (ASX:HLS) had their application refused for special leave to appeal a decision regarding a tax case dating back to 2003. The case relates to the tax treatment of lump sum payments to healthcare practitioners in financial years 2003 to 2007. The litigation is now closed.

Integrated services company Downer (ASX:DOW) has been awarded a $245 million contract by ElectraNetto to upgrade their existing electricity transmission network supplying the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Financials adding 1.1 per cent while the worst performing sector was Healthcare shedding 3.5 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Computershare (ASX:CPU) rising 4.6 per cent to close at $14.29. Shares in Cleanaway Waste Management (ASX:CWY) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was IGO (ASX:IGO) dropping 7.9 per cent to close at $6.52. Shares in Pointsbet (ASX:PBH) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 2.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 2.6 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 1.6 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,715 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 0.5 per cent to US$176.40. 
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 1.95 per cent.
Light crude is US$0.34 higher at US$57.74 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.97 US cents.