The ASX 200 has opened higher with to the tune of 25 points or 0.4%. This followed another strong lead from the Dow Jones on Wall Street which advanced 164 points overnight. The top 200 index is improving towards lunch, lifting 0.5% and looking at three straight days of gains for the first time this month.
Most sectors are higher with energy and materials contributing most to gains. While utilities are flat and consumer staples weaker. Miners have been led by gains in BHP up 1.5% and South (S32) 6.2% higher with major miners all higher despite a mixed night for metalsprices. Oil prices rose overnight after US inventories fell by 1.6 million barrels compared to a 1.8 million lift expected by analysts. Crude oil jumped by nearly 2% lifting the major local oil and energy producers. Oil Search (OSH), Santos (STO) and Origin Energy (ORG) are moving higher by 1% or more.
Weighing on consumer staples is the performance of Woolworths (WOW) which is down 2.8% after the supermarket giant lifted first half net profit from continuing operations by 15% to $902 million. Woolworths did make note that it expects Australian food sales to moderate in the second half of this financial year. Big W continues to weigh on the group with a loss for the half while WOW continues to look at options to sell its fuel business after the ACCC opposed its sale to BP.
Platinum Asset (PTM) is sliding 11% after the fund manager reported a near 15% lift in revenue to $185.9 million for the six months ending 31 December 2017. Net profit also climbed 7% to $104.6 million. Funds under management (FUM) came in at $27.1 billion, up 19% on the year before. What shocked the market most was the announcement that CEO Kerr Neilson will be stepping aside as chief executive to be replaced by existing chief investment officer, Andrew Clifford. Mr Neilson will still remain as a director and investor for the company.
Southern Cross Media (SXL) has also slumped 9% reporting a 20% drop in its first half net profit to $38.2 million. SXL expects to see FY18 cost outlook to be flat while it is forecasting 5% revenue growth in Jan-Feb excluding Northern NSW TV which was sold to WIN. Aged care operator, Regis Healthcare (REG) is up 6.3% after lifting its revenue to $297 million for 1H18. Net profit fell slightly over the half but was in line with expectations. Tasmanian Salmon farmer, Tassal Group (TGR) has seen its revenue jump 24% to 271.3 million for the first half of financial year 2018. EBITDA and net profit has also lifted and the stock has risen 6% in response.
There is no major economic data to be released today. The Aussie dollar is trading around 78.35 US cents. So far 1.2 billion units have traded worth $3.3 billion with 651 stocks higher, 372 lower and 333 unchanged.
Published by CommSec