Retail turnover falls 1.1% MoM in Feb: Aus shares 0.2% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Katrina Bullock

The Australian share market opened lower and has continued on this trajectory into the mid-session. Energy stocks are dragging on the market despite signs of recovery in the iron ore price. This follows a rocky session on Wall Street overnight which saw the tech heavy Nasdaq lose 3.02 per cent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 12 points or 0.2 per cent lower at 6,734. On the futures market the SPI is 20 points lower.

Local economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released preliminary retail trade figures for February. Retail sales were much weaker than expected. The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 1.1 per cent month on month. The market had expected an increase of 0.6 per cent following January’s rise of 0.3 per cent. Turnover rose 8.7 per cent in February though compared to February of 2020.

Broker moves

Morgan Stanley says shares in Westpac (ASX:WBC) are overweight, setting a target price of $25.30. Westpac is set to sell its lenders mortgage insurance business to Arch Capital Group. The broker believes the sale is consistent with the bank’s strategy to “fix, simplify and perform”. Morgan Stanley notes that Westpac will incur a loss on the sale due to separation costs, transaction costs and an $84 million write-down. Shares in Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) are trading 0.8 per cent higher at $24.63.

Company news

Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) says there is currently no anticipated interruption to gold production as a result of the 2 week travel suspension between Papua New Guinea and Australia. The company’s Lihir operation in Papua New Guinea is currently undergoing a planned maintenance shutdown and is in the process of progressively starting up. The operation has a dedicated isolation camp and separate isolation and treatment facility to provide care to members of its workforce who have contracted Covid-19. Shares in Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) are trading 2.2 per cent lower at $24.52.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Utilities, adding 1.1 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Energy, shedding 1.4 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Computershare (ASX:CPU), rising 3.4 per cent to $15.14, followed by shares in Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (ASX:BEN) and News Corporation (ASX:NWS).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Silver Lake Resources (ASX:SLR), dropping 3.9 per cent to $1.63, followed by shares in Service Stream (ASX:SSM) and James Hardie Industries (ASX:JHX).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,730 an ounce.

Iron ore price rose 0.3 per cent to US$166.62.

Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.6 per cent.

One Australian dollar is buying 77.41 US cents.

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