Following 2 days of losses for the ASX 200, the market found its footing in opening trade on Friday. The Index opened with a gain of 14 points before trading 58 points higher at the best levels of the morning. As lunch loomed the market was ahead by 56 pts or 0.90%.
Local gains were painted in a more flattering light when seen in the context of the mixed results delivered by Wall Street overnight. The main discussion point has been the sharp sell-off for shares in Facebook. The social media giant saw its stock fall by 19%, wiping around $110 billion off capitalisation in the aftermath of a disappointing earnings result. The Dow Jones index rose by 113 points or 0.4%. But the S&P 500 index fell by 0.3% and the Nasdaq index lost 80 points or 1.0%.
Every sector traded higher at lunch with the exception of Consumer Staples which were lower by only a small margin. Information Technology was the most improved ASX sector at lunch, although the majority of subgroups were enjoying solid gains In the period to lunch 1.2 billion shares were traded, worth $3.8 billion. 617 stocks rose, 321 fell and 392 were unchanged.
BHP Billiton (BHP) rose 2.2% or $0.77 to $34.41 after announcing the sale of its U.S. onshore oil and gas assets for US$10.8 billion to the BP American Production Company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of BP Plc. The miner expects to return the proceeds from the sale to shareholders, given that its net debt is currently toward the lower end of a US$10 billionUS$15 billion target range. An impairment charge of about US$2.8 billion against the carrying value of the U.S. assets will be booked for the 2018 fiscal year.
AMP shares fell 4% or 14 cents to $3.34 after announcing that it expects 1H18 underlying profit to be in an estimated range $490-500 million & Targeting an FY18 dividend payout at lower end of 70-90% guidance range. The results are expected to include a provision of $290 million (post-tax) for potential advice remediation in relation to recent ASIC reports.
GUD Holdings (GUD) shares were at $13.93 for a loss of 3 cents or 0.21% after reporting full year NPAT of $101.8 million, up from a loss of $7.3 million in the previous corresponding period (pcp). Underlying NPAT from continuing operations of $55.2 million was up 20% on the result for the same period . Revenue from continuing operations was up 11% to $397 million, entirely generated from the Automotive businesses. Underlying EBIT from continuing operations was $83.5 million, an increase of 12% from last year’s $74.9 million. A final dividend of 28 cents per share fully franked was announced, an increase of 12% on last year’s level. The full year dividends increased to 52 cents, fully franked, up from 46 cents previously and this represents a payout of 80% on underlying basic earnings per share from continuing operations. The dividend is payable on 31 August 2018.
The Aussie dollar weakened in the last 12 hours in response to a stronger USD. The escalating trade tensions between the US and China remain a key influence in currency markets at present although rising commodity prices have been a support for the AUD. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US74.45 cents to lows near US73.70 cents and was near the lows in late US trade; in early Asian trade the local unit was at US73.80 cents.
Published by CommSec