Local shares reversed yesterday’s losses in early trade as investors focussed on the encouraging performance of US shares overnight. US stocks moved ahead on the back of the better than expected reading for the China Caixin Manufacturing PMI, and the optimistic prospects of for US growth in the year ahead – US economic data showed that the final December estimate of the Markit purchasing managers index for manufacturing was 55.1, a near 3- year high. Tech stocks featured as the Nasdaq climbed by as much as 1.5%, the biggest intraday gain since October 27.
The ASX 200 opened with a gain of 9 points, before trading to a 20 point improvement at the best levels of the morning. At the low point the index was down 1 points Notwithstanding the early gains, most ASX sectors were in the red over the morning. Consumer Staples and Information Technology led the declines in outright terms, while Utilities and Healthcare continued to underperform. Materials stood out with the best improvement followed by Energy, while Financials eased as a group. Participation was low with 2.5 billion transactions being measured by the ASX valued at $1.65 billion. At lunch 610 shares were higher, 492 were lower and 351 were unchanged.
The continued underperformance of the US dollar continued to support precious metals prices in the last day, including gold. Gold prices rose for the eighth consecutive session overnight, in the process marking the longest stretch of improvements since the middle of 2011. As a result ASX gold names were well supported this morning; Newcrest Mining (NCM) was ahead by 23 cents or 1% at $23.31, Saint Barbara Limited (SBM) rose 6 cents or 1.7% at $3.90 and Northern Star (NST) was 8 cents or 1.3% former at $6.28. Elsewhere in commodity space, iron ore miners moved ahead after the price of the steel making ingredient firmed by US$2.30 or 3.2% to US$75.20 a tonne. Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) shares were ahead by 15 cents or 3.1% at $5.08.
Dulux Group (DLX) shares were 1.5% or 12 cents lower at $7.54 after announcing that it’s 51% owned joint venture company has agreed to sell most of its coatings portfolio in Hong Kong and Mainland China to Yip’s Chemical Holdings Limited. The sale follows a strategic review and will be completed by the middle of the 2018 financial year. DLX’s Selleys business in Hong Kong and China and a small part of the coatings portfolio will be retained.
Confectionary maker Yowie Group (YOW) saw its shares dive 31% or 7 cents to 14 cents after emerging from a trading halt. The selloff was driven by a profit warning and the resignation of its CEO. The group cut its sales growth guidance for FY18 to 17% compared to FY17, down from an earlier forecast for 55% growth. The group cited several factors behind the lowered expectations, including a poor performance from the Discovery World brand, a deferred launch into Canada and reduced opportunities at Yowie’s largest US retailer. Bert Alfonso will step down from his position of Global CEO and resign as a director, while Mark Schuessler, formerly Global COO and Head of Yowie North America, will assume the role of Global CEO.
Originally published by CommSec