Half-price flights take off today: ASX closed 0.1% higher over the week

Market Reports

by Melissa Darmawan

The local share market finished the first day of the month in positive territory building on yesterday's gains. The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 38 points or 0.6 per cent higher to finish at 6,829. Over the week we closed 0.1 per cent or 5 points higher. Gains in technology, materials and utilities offset losses in health care, industrials and consumer staples. Boral (ASX:BLD) rose 6.7 per cent after announcing a buy back offer following the $1.33 billion sale in their USG Boral joint venture. AMP (ASX:AMP) jumped 4.7 per cent following the announcement of a new CEO. On the other hand, Webjet (ASX:WEB) closed 5.4 per cent lower after it announced plans to raise $250 million to repay debt and fund future acquisitions. Macquarie (ASX:MQG) closed 0.47 per cent lower after failing to meet APRA's risk management requirements and liquidity reporting standards between 2018 - 2020. The regulator requires the bank to hold an additional $500M as of April. Meantime half-price flights take off today as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion stimulus program.

Futures market 

Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 26 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a lift of 1 point.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing rise of 38 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 36 point rise on Tuesday morning.

Local economic news

Australia's trade surplus fell to $7.53 billion in February from January's record high missing market estimates of $9.7 billion.

Job vacancies increased by 14 per cent in the February quarter compared to the same period last year. The largest percentage job vacancies were in accommodation and food services at 88 per cent followed by construction at 60 per cent. The reason for labour shortages was due to the difficulty in filling roles for lower paid jobs.

Retail trade fell 0.8 per cent month on month on the back of lockdowns in Victoria and Western Australia while Australian turnover rose 9.2 per cent compared to same time last year.

New loan commitments for housing fell by 0.4 per cent. This is the first fall since May 2020. The value of new loans for owner-occupied homes dropped by 1.8 per cent after soaring 10.9 per cent to record in January. The drop was driven by reduced loan commitments, however the value of these commitments remained 39.7 per cent higher than in February 2020.

Company news

Coca-Cola Europe announced a deal to acquire the Coca-Cola Company's 31 per cent stake in the Australian Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX:CCL). This means that The Coca-Cola Company will no longer have any financial interest in the Australian soft drink company. Australian shareholders are due to vote on the scheme of arrangement at a virtual meeting in April. Shares in Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX:CCL) closed flat at $13.43.

AMP (ASX:AMP) appointed Alexis George as Chief Executive Officer. The move follows the decision by current CEO Francesco De Ferrari to retire.

AFT Pharmaceuticals (ASX:AFP) revised its earnings guidance for the year following a number of Covid-19 related delays. The company is now reporting operating profit to be between $9 -$11 million dollars compared to the $11.4 million at the same time last year.

Transurban (ASX:TCL) closed the sale of a 50 per cent interest in its Transurban Chesapeake assets to AustralianSuper, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and UniSuper for $2.8 billion dollars.

Accounting software company Xero (ASX:XRO) completed the acquisitions of Planday and Tickstar. Planday is a workforce management platform while Tickstar is a technology business which connects customers to a global electronic invoicing network.

Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) completed the sale of its Australian life insurance business, CommInsure Life to AIA Australia for $2.4 billion.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Information Technology adding 2.5 per cent while the worst performing sector was Health care dropping 0.2 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Boral (ASX:BLD) rising 6.7 per cent to close at $5.86 followed by shares in Megaport (ASX:MP1) and Perenti Global (ASX:PRN).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Webjet (ASX:MP1) shedding 5.4 per cent to close at $5.28 followed by shares in Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) and Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 1.2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.3 per cent.

Wall St

Over the last three trading days, the Dow Jones closed 0.3 per cent lower, the S&P500 closed 0.04 per cent lower while the Nasdaq gained 0.8 per cent.s

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,712 an ounce.
Iron ore price down 0.9 per cent to US$165.15.
Its futures are pointing to a rise of 2.6 per cent.
Light crude is US$0.27 higher at US$57.12 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 75.40 US cents.

Reminder: The ASX is closed tomorrow and Monday with trading to resume on Tuesday.

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