The local sharemarket started the last session of the week with solid gains which faded towards lunch. The ASX 200 started the session with a 1 point gain, which was also the low of the morning, before moving to a 29 point gain at the best levels of the morning.
The supportive tone marked quite a contrast to the last session in particular, which saw most regional markets post solid losses, with market sentiment heavily influenced by news flow around the US-China trade dispute.
US stocks posted mixed results overnight. After being down almost 214 points at the open of trade, the Dow Jones index ended lower by 7.7 points or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 index rose by 0.5% and the Nasdaq was up by 95 points or 1.2%.
Sector movements saw the gains led by Technology names, which have been under pressure for the entire week. Additionally, there were solid gains for the Consumer Discretionary, Energy and Healthcare sectors. Only 2 sectors posted losses; Financials & Materials.
A2 Milk (A2M) shares were firmer after the dairy group announced it had increased its stake in supplier Synlait Milk. A2M said it will acquire an 8.2% in Synlait for about $148 million from Japan’s Mitsui & Co, with the move reflecting the group’s broader strategy of consolidating on long-term supply arrangements with partners such as Synlait and Fonterra. A2M shares are trading up 0.73% to $9.63
Resmed (RMD) shares were 1.2% or 17 cents lower at $14.22 after reporting Q418 operating results. The maker of sleep apnoea devices said revenue increased 12% to $623.6 million. While underlying profit NPAT came in at $136.3 million a 24% increase compared to the prior year. EBIT for the quarter was $166.0 million, a 19% increase compared to the same period a year ago. RMD declared a quarterly dividend of $0.37 per share, an increase of 6%.
NIB Holdings (NHF) shares were 0.25% or 1.5 cents lower at $5.60 after announcing it had acquired QBE’s travel insurance operations, QBE Travel for $25 million. The purchase of Australia’s fourth largest travel insurer reflects NHF’s strategy to grow its World Nomads Group travel insurance business, by providing increased scale and distribution reach. NHF said it will fund the transaction through existing available capital, and expects the transaction to complete in the first quarter 2019.
The Aussie dollar has been trending lower over the last 12 hours, reflecting a stronger Greenback as market participants anticipate a robust US employment report, later tonight local time. The Aussie dollar eased from highs near US74.40 cents to lows near US73.55 cents overnight and commenced Asian trade near US73.70 cents. The Aussie dollar found short lived support in response to better than expected retail sales data. The ABS reported that 2Q retail sales rose 1.2% compared to economist’s expectations for a 0.8% increase.
Published by CommSec