Victoria enters 7-day snap lockdown, Costa Group tumbles 20%: ASX tracking flat at noon

Market Reports

by Melissa Darmawan

Text-only (non-video) report.

The Australian share market had a firm start to trade though gave back gains just before lunch thanks to Materials, Information Technology and Energy sectors upon news in Victoria. The outperformer of the session is AMP (ASX:AMP) trading over 5 per cent higher on news that ASIC has commenced legal proceedings after the wealth manager charged fees on super accounts of deceased clients, while the laggard in the index is Costa Group Holdings (ASX:CGC) tumbling over 20 per cent as the fruit grower provided a mixed trading update at their AGM dragging Consumer Staples down as the worst performing sector. Flight stocks are mixed on news that Victoria will enter a seven-day lockdown at midnight tonight with Flight centre (ASX:FLT) up 2 per cent, Sydney Airport edged higher by 0.2 per cent while Qantas (ASX:QAN) shed 0.2 per cent while Webjet (ASX:WEB) remains flat. On the mining front, Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) rose over 3 per cent while BHP (ASX:BHP) added 1.3 per cent as Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) also advanced. To the banking side of the market, ANZ (ASX:ANZ) is up 0.2 per cent with Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) added 0.2 per cent on news around their technology expansion.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.01 per cent or 1.00 points lower at 7091.50.

The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 1 point.

Economic news

Australian Bureau of Statistics released business investment figures for the March quarter with total new expenditure up 6.3 per cent beating market expectations. Business conditions for May was also issued with most businesses reported stable trading conditions with data which showed that since the end of March, 20 per cent of businesses have stopped accessing support measures such as wage subsidies, the renegotiation of property rent or lease arrangements and deferred loan repayments.

Company news

Banking giant Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) has splurged $50 million in a 23 per cent shareholding in online shopping start-up Little Birdie and 25 per cent shareholding in tech-energy retail company Amber.

New Zealand medical-maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (ASX:FPH) reports its full-year profit soared 82 per cent for the year ended 31 March, thanks to a spike in demand for its respiratory devices to hospitals.

Health insurer Medibank (ASX:MPL) welcomes Dr Andrew Wilson to commence as Group Executive, CEO Health Services as the hunt for two new executives to join the leadership team commences

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has begun legal proceedings against five subsidiaries of financial giant AMP (ASX:AMP) in the Federal Court of Australia, accusing the businesses of “unconscionable conduct” regarding deceased customers.

Broker moves

Morgan Stanley rates lab examiner ALS (ASX:ALQ) as a hold from an add with a raised target price of $11.56. The downgrade comes after a strong share price rise as the company’s astute management of costs and capacity drove its FY21 profit up 4.5 per cent ahead of market expectations. The broker lifts FY22-24 EPS forecasts by 4 to 11 per cent due largely due to a lift in commodity margins by 30 per cent to reflect the sector outlook. The target price lifts from $10.35 to $11.56 as the broker downgrades its rating. Shares in ALS (ASX:ALQ) are trading 1.1 per cent lower at $12.16.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Materials, up 0.63 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Consumer Staples, down 0.79 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is AMP (ASX:AMP), trading 5.16 per cent higher at $1.12 followed by shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and EML Payments (ASX:EML).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Costa Group Holdings (ASX:CGC), trading 20.27 per cent lower at $3.54 followed by shares in Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (ASX:FPH) and Ansell (ASX:ANN).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1893.71 an ounce.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 1.4 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.33 US cents.