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Early trade on Wednesday saw the ASX 200 continue on its recent downward trajectory. The Market opened with a loss of 8 points before posting a loss of 35 points at the low of the morning. The Materials sector posted the largest outright loss in early trade, followed by Telecoms, while banks names were a substantial weight on the index. On the positive side of the ledger Property Trusts were the most improved sub index, followed by Consumer Staples and Healthcare. Sirtex Medical (SRX) led the ASX 200 company improvers as lunch approached, followed by flight Centre (FLT), Oz Minerals (OZL) and A2 Milk (A2M). Index decliners were headed by a 3% fall for Retail Food Group (RFG), followed by a similar fall for Iluka Resources (ILU) and a 2.7% decline for BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto (RIO). Turnover to lunch was above average with 2.6 billion transactions being measured by the ASX valued at $2.2 billion. At lunch 459 shares were higher, 696 were lower and 344 were unchanged
Oncology drug maker Sirtex Medical (SRX) saw its shares surged by 17% or $2.58 to $17.89 after releasing an encouraging trading update. SRX said first-half earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were expected to be to approximately $34 million, marking a 16% increase compared to the prior corresponding period (pcp) despite flat dose sales. Higher forecast sales in the second half, in addition continued reductions in operating expenditure mean that full year EBITDA is seen to be in the range of $75-85 million. This compares to a full year underlying EBITDA of $61.5 million in the 2017.
Oz Minerals (OZL) bucked the weaker trend in the resource space rising by as much as 3% in early trade helped by solid quarterly production numbers. Fourth quarter production for the copper and gold miner was at the high end of expectations. The increased output was accompanied by cost discipline with expenses at the low end of expectations. Full year cash costs came in at 83 US cents per pound compared to the full year forecast of 85 to 90 US cents per pound. Other highlights included gold production of 126,713 ounces, which exceeded 2017 guidance of 115,00 to 125,000 ounces and was up 34% on prior quarter. 2018 and 2019 copper production guidance was lifted also. A short time ago OZL shares were 0.8% or 7 cents higher at $9.15.
Shares in medicinal cannabis maker Creso Pharma (CPH) rose 4% to $1.12 after announcing a commercialisation agreement with UK-based Precision Healthcare. The deal will pave the way for the distribution of CPH’s cannaQIX products in the UK following their UK launch in Q1 2018. Precision Healthcare sells and distributes consumer healthcare brands to mass retailers and independent pharmacies in the UK covering more than 5000 outlets. CPH’s cannaQIX products contain organic hemp extract which are aimed at reducing stress and supporting mental and nervous functions.
In foreign exchange trade most major currencies have firmed against the US dollar in the last 12 hours. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US79.75 cents to as low as US79.35 cents before recovering to US79.60 cents in late US trade. In early Asian trade the local unit has firmed to be at US 79.90 cents.
Originally published by CommSec