Local shares have opened flat on Thursday with the ASX 200 oscillating between positive and negative in the early part of the session. Towards lunch, the main index is lower by 11 points or 0.18% to 6255.
Financials have continued to weigh on the local bourse with the four major banks all lower between 1-2%. Utilities and consumer staples are also contributing to losses. Telcos are still basking in the afterglow of yesterday’s strong performance on the possible merger between TPG Telecom (TPM) Vodafone Hutchison, 50% owned by Hutchison Telecom (HTA). TPM is climbing another 10% while HTA is 65% higher so far. Telstra (TLS) shares are also still moving higher by 3.8%.
Materials are rebounding from losses in the previous two sessions. BHP Billiton (BHP) is around 1.5% higher while Rio Tinto (RIO) is 0.5% higher. The sector is also buoyed by 5% advances for South32 (S32) and Alumina (AWC) on well received earnings results. Gold and copper miner, Newcrest Mining (NCM) is down 2.9% with FY18 results impacted by disruptions to its Cadia facility.
In other earnings releases, energy producer Santos (STO) has almost doubled half year underlying profit to US$217 million and will be returning a dividend to shareholders for the first time since 2016. Santos also announced after market yesterday that will acquire Quadrant Energy for US$2.15 billion. Santos shares are 8% higher.
Afterpay Touch (APT) is in a trading halt with the payment services tech firm looking to enter the UK market. It is expecting to raise over $100 million in an institutional placement to acquire 90% UK based buy-now-pay-later firm ClearPay. APT also lifted FY18 EBITDA and revenue by 468% and 390% respectively.
Both Qantas (QAN) and Flight Centre (FLT) are both sliding 6% and 7% each on earnings results. QAN warned that rising fuel costs would be a challenge for the upcoming year. Online travel agency, Webjet (WEB) is soaring 13% with FY results boosted by the sale of Zuji during the year.
The Aussie dollar has been impacted by the political disruptions in Canberra more so than the equity market, with the local currency falling to 72.9 US cents from its highs near 73.7. So far, 1.2B units have traded worth $3.6B with 512 stocks higher, 538 weaker and 358 unchanged.
Published by James Tao – Analyst (Author), CommSec