Magellan falls on Douglass' exit, GrainCorp rises: ASX down 0.4% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket is up and down this morning as property and financial stocks weigh, while the energy sector is leading the gains amid multi-year high crude prices. Meanwhile, shares in Magellan Financial (ASX:MFG) are falling as the worst performer after Hamish Douglass plans to step down from his duties as chairman, director and chief investment officer of the group.

The co-founder is set to take a period of medical leave after a period of “intense pressure and focus” on both his personal and professional life. Co-founder Chris Mackay is slated to return to the investment team and oversee portfolio management for the interim, while Nikki Thomas will rejoin the business as a co-portfolio manager. Meanwhile, the board will continue its search to appoint an additional independent director. Shares are almost 11 per cent lower at $16.46.

Major banks are lower with ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) leading the declines, down 2.4 per cent at $26.43 after reporting a drop in group net interest margin of 8 basis points over the first quarter, or 5 basis points on an underlying basis. National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is trading 1.7 per cent lower at $27.44, while shares in Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) has shed the least by 0.2 per cent at $21.47.

BHP (ASX:BHP) is leading iron ore players 0.9 per cent higher at $47.22, Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) is up 0.6 per cent at $21.46 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is trading 0.3 per cent higher at $114.92.

Gold stocks are mixed with Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) up 0.5 per cent at $22.66, while Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is down 0.8 per cent at $3.61 and Northern Star (ASX:NST) are trading 0.7 per cent lower at $8.48.

Energy stocks are higher led by Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) up 1.7 per cent at $26.68, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) has added 1.3 per cent at $1.52 and Santos (ASX:STO) is trading 0.7 per cent higher at $7.50.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.4 per cent or 26 points lower at 7,094.

The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 53 points.

Local economic news

Australian retail sales rose 8.2 per cent in the December quarter 2021, its strongest quarterly rise on record, following a 4.4 per cent fall in the September quarter, seasonally adjusted as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Sales volumes are now at their highest quarterly level of the series, up 3.4 per cent on the June quarter, and 3.6 per cent through the year.

The quarterly rise was driven by the spending in the discretionary industries, all of which saw a sharp fall in the September quarter.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing had the largest rise (43.1 per cent), followed by cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (18.8 per cent), household goods retailing (9.0 per cent), department stores (25.0 per cent), and other retailing (6.8 per cent), in seasonally adjusted volume terms.

Job advertisements dropped by 0.3 percent in January compared to the month before, after a revised 5.8 per cent fall in December, pointing to the second straight month of decline.

Company news

Building material giant James Hardie (ASX:JHX) has raised its income guidance by 6 per cent to up to $890 million (US$630 million), from their previous guidance after a strong third quarter in which sales increased across the board. The company said its third quarter global net sales increased more than 22 per cent due to continued residential and market growth. Shares are trading 0.8 per cent higher at $48.

Agribusiness GrainCorp (ASX:GNC) said that strong harvest, coupled with supply shortages and adverse weather conditions in the northern hemisphere, has contributed to “excellent” global demand. Strong supply chain margins for grain exports has also buoyed its results. The company expects to report full year EBITDA of $480 to $540 million which is above market expectations of $368 million. Shares are trading 12.5 per cent higher at $8.11.

Start Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR) expects to report a loss in the first half of the 2022 financial year, with its earnings impacted by Covid-19 related shutdowns and restrictions. Shares are trading 0.3 per cent higher at $3.54.

Snowy Hydro has named CIMIC Group’s (ASX:CIM) UGL as the principal contractor for the construction of a 660MW power generation plant at the Hunter Power Project in Kurri Kurri, NSW. Shares are trading 1.5 per cent lower at $16.55.

Shares in Argo Investments (ASX:ARG) is up 0.2 per cent at $9.92 after the investment group increased its fully franked dividend after delivering a portfolio return of 7.3 per cent over the half based on its NTA growth. Shares are trading 0.4 per cent higher at $9.94. 

Silver Lake Resources (ASX:SLR) will begin an on-market share buyback for up to 10 per cent of the company’s shares over the next 12 months. Shares are 2.7 per cent higher at $1.55.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Energy, up 1 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trusts, down 1.6 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is GrainCorp (ASX:GNC), trading 13.2 per cent higher at $8.16. It is followed by shares in Elders (ASX:ELD) and Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals (ASX:CUV).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Magellan Financial Group (ASX:MFG), trading 10.7 per cent lower at $16.54. It is followed by shares in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW) and REA Group (ASX:REA).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1813.47 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.4 per cent higher at US$146.60 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 1.8 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 70.75 US cents.

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