Household wealth at 11-year highs: ASX closes 0.2% higher

Market Reports

by Melissa Darmawan

The Australian share market pushed into the green from a flat start, faded in afternoon trade and surprised investors with a late jump to close 0.2 per cent higher. Improvements were seen across all the sectors except Technology, Finance and Consumer Staples, which closed in the red. Energy stocks rose 0.3 per cent following oil prices rebounding 6 per cent from Tuesday's decline, after the grounding of a ship in the Suez Canal. The ship turned sideways in the middle of a sandstorm, completely blocking the Canal from traffic in both directions and causing delay in crude shipments. Oil prices rose on the likelihood of a shortage. Polynovo (ASX:PNV) led the gains in health care rising 4.88 per cent while AMP (ASX:AMP) dropped 3.8 per cent before going into a trading halt in the last hour of trade pending a company announcement.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 12 points higher to finish at 6,791.

Futures markets 

Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 105 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a lift of 11 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing lift of 31 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 11 point rise tomorrow morning 

Local economic news

Total household wealth rose by 4.3 per cent to a record high $12,033.5 billion in the December quarter, up 7 per cent a year ago. This is the biggest quarterly growth since December quarter 2009 (11 years) as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The growth was driven by rising residential property prices due to low interest rates and government support programs such as the First Home Buyer and the HomeBuilder schemes.

Labour Force numbers for February was also released today with 88,700 new jobs added to the economy with the unemployment rate improving from 6.3 per cent to 5.8 per cent. This means that 13,006,900 people are employed, which is also at record highs.

On the business sentiment front, 46 per cent of businesses expect it to be easy or very easy to meet financial commitments over the next three months, compared to 23 per cent in August 2020.

Company news

PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) signed an agreement with US group purchasing organisation Premier Inc for the supply of NovoSorb® Biodegradable Temporizing Matrix (BTM). NovoSorb is used to temporarily close the wound to the skin while helping the body generate new tissue. The supply is under a program which ensures that hospitals have timely access to innovative products that can drive high quality, cost-effective care. The agreement allows Premier member hospitals access to the product at special pricing and terms negotiated with PolyNovo. Shares in PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) closed 4.9 per cent higher at $3.01.

Suncorp (ASX:SUN) provided an update that the company received over 5,400 claims across three states with the number of claims expected to rise.

Building manufacturing company Brickworks (ASX:BKW) report their net profit after tax soared 22 per cent to $71 million for the half year ending January this year, compared to their prior corresponding period. The company reported mixed performance. Their Australian operations was largely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic delivering higher earnings while in the US, activity was severely disrupted.

Washington H. Soul Pattinson (ASX:SOL) reports a fall of 27.7 per cent in the Group's regular profit after tax of $90.2 million for the half year ending 31 January. The company attributes the results to reduced contributions from diversified energy company New Hope Corporation and the de-recognition of internet service provider TPG with its equity accounts no longer adding to the company's profits.

Buy now pay later company Humm (ASX:HUM) announced a range of new partnerships adding to its existing 3,500 health and well-being partners. The company says it’s now providing $120 million of health and dental care cover in the past 12 months with a $4000 average transaction size and terms ranging from five fortnights to five years.

Starpharma (ASX:SPL) signed an agreement with Lloyds Pharmacy in the UK for the distribution of its VIRALEZE antiviral nasal spray. Their product has been shown to inactivate respiratory viruses and multiple strains of Covid-19. The product is expected to be in store next month and online by next week.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Healthcare adding 1 per cent while the worst performing sector was Information Technology shedding 1.1 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Adbri (ASX:ABC) rising 5.3 per cent to close at $3.39 followed by shares in Polynovo (ASX:PNV) and Brickworks (ASX:BKW).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG) dropping 26.2 per cent to close at $0.47 followed by shares in Hub24 (ASX:HUB) and Netwealth (ASX:NWL).
 
 Asian markets

Higher:Japan’s Nikkei has gained 1.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has also added 0.2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite also added 0.2 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,737 an ounce.
Iron ore price lost 0.4 per cent to US$161.39.
Its futures are pointing to a rise of 3.2 per cent.
Light crude is US$0.94 down at US$57.68 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 76.01 US cents. 

Are you a 708 sophisticated investor?

A sophisticated investor is defined under Section 708 of the Corporations Act (net assets of $2.5 million or annual incomes in excess of $250,000).

They are eligible to receive information regarding wholesale investment opportunities that are not available to regular or retail investors.

Please subscribe if you would like to be alerted to these types of opportunities.