Local shares resumed trade after the ANZAC Day public holiday on Wednesday. The ASX 200 was lower at lunch having traded in a 25 point range over the morning, which saw the index down by 8 points at the low and 17 points higher at the best levels of the morning. Sector moves saw Energy names lead the gains, while Financials were the only group to post a meaningful decline. Materials were flat at lunch having posted a solid decline on Tuesday.
Participation was modest in the face of a holiday shortened week. 1.7 billion shares have changed hands up to lunch today worth $3.6bn. 607 stocks rose, 473 fell and 385 were unchanged.
Cleanaway Waste Management (CWY) shares were 3.6% or 5 cents higher at $1.62 after announcing the ACCC has granted approval for its proposed acquisition of Tox Free Solutions (TOX). The transaction is still subject to TOX shareholder & court approval. Cleanaway and Tox Free both supply waste management services, including the collection, treatment and disposal of municipal, commercial and industrial, liquid, hazardous and medical waste.
Healthscope (HSO) shares were up 14% or 28 cents at $2.31 after announcing that the received an unsolicited & conditional takeover proposal from a consortium of fund managers at $2.36 per share, a 16% premium to the 24 Apr 18 closing price of $2.03. HSO, which operates about 45 hospitals locally in addition to the provision of pathology services, said the indicative price would be reduced by the value of any dividends and has begun an assessment of the proposal, appointing UBS as a financial adviser.
Shares in Newcrest Mining (NCM) were flat at $20.80 after reporting third quarter Q3 production numbers. Quarterly gold output was down 6% on the prior quarter, driven predominantly by reduced production at Cadia following the Northern Tailings Facility embankment slump on 9 March 2018 which resulted in the temporary suspension of all mining and processing activities. Mining recommenced progressively from 27 March 2018 and processing recommenced at a limited rate from 29 March 2018 . Cadia comprises about a quarter of group gold production. NCM now expects to produce between 2.25 million and 2.35 million troy ounces in the year to June 2018, compared to an earlier forecast of 2.4 million-2.7 million troy ounces of gold for the full year. NCM also cut its estimate for copper production for the year to between 70,000 and 75,000 metric tons, from previous guidance of 80,000-90,000 tons.
Wesfarmers (WES) shares were 1 cent lower at $42.43 after the conglomerate delivered Q3 18 sales figures. Bunnings Australia and New Zealand saw total sales growth of 8.9%. The UK operations group claimed ‘better execution and improved trading results in the early part of the quarter were offset by unusually poor weather in March 2018′. As a result total UK sales fell 6.5% or 13.5% in local currency terms for the quarter. Coles oversaw headline food and liquor sales growth of 1.9%. Elsewhere, total sales grew by 10.2% at Kmart, reflecting strong growth in customer transactions: Target saw a 2% decline in total sales & Officeworks delivered total sales growth of 7.2%.
Most currencies have eased against the US dollar in the US and European sessions compared with the Asian close yesterday. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US75.85 cents to lows near US75.50 cents and it was near US75.65 cents at the open of regional trade. A short time ago the local unit was at 75.71 US cents.
Published by CommSec