The Aussie market has started the month of March on a weaker tone with the ASX 200 51 points or 0.85% lower to fall below 6000 points at 5964. This follows on from yesterday’s 0.7% drop. US markets didn’t provide a positive lead with the main indices all weaker overnight. February was the worst month for US markets in two years.
Another reason for the decline on the market is the large number of companies trading ex-dividend. This includes the likes of Woolworths (WOW), Rio Tinto (RIO), Fortescue (FMG) and Telstra (TLS) which are all weighing on the broader market.
There are few positive movements among sectors. The energy sector has taken a hit following a 2% sell off in crude oil last night on higher than expected US crude inventories. Oil Search (OSH) is the worst performing local oil producer, slipping 4.3%. A recent earthquake in PNG has affected its operations in the area. Woodside (WPL), Santos (STO) and Caltex (CTX) are all around 2% lower. Financials are weaker with the big four banks all lower, ANZ is leading the losses down 1.3%. Materials are declining with Rio Tinto (RIO) down 4% and Fortescue 2% weaker as both are trading ex-div.
Harvey Norman (HVN) has continued its slide, down 2.2% after tumbling 12.5% yesterday on its interim earnings result. Retail Food Group (RFG) is one of several stocks to be officially suspended from quotation after failing to lodge half year results in accordance with ASX listing rules. RFG has slumped ~80% over the past 15 months. Construction materials company, Adelaide Brighton (ABC) is up 1.6% after Barro Properties is looking to purchase 19 millionshares on market but has no intention of taking over the company.
Home prices have fallen in February for six of the eight capital cities. Hobart rose the most with a 0.7% gain while Darwin fell the most with a drop of 0.9%. Sydney has now experienced its first annual fall in home prices in over five years. Australia’s capital expenditure (capex) came in well below expectations with a small decline over the Decemberquarter of 0.2% compared to a lift of 1% tipped by most economists. In reaction, the Aussie dollar has tumbled to two month lows at 77.3 US cents.
So far, 1.9B units have traded worth $2.8B with 415 stocks higher, 677 lower and 353 unchanged. Published by CommSec