It has been a solid start to November for local shares with the ASX 200 lifting 20 points or 0.34% to 5850 at lunch, but was as much as 45 points higher earlier in the session. This follows a rise on Wall Street, boosted by strong earnings results for companies such as General Motors and Facebook.
The number of winners and losers are fairly balanced but some gains for larger companies is swaying the broader market to positive territory. Materials are lifting the market most with a 4% rise for our largest miner, BHP Billiton (BHP), after announcing it had completed the sale of US onshore oil & gas assets for US$10.5 billion. BHP will also return $US10.4 billion back to shareholders via an offmarket buy-back and special dividend. Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue Metals (FMG) are also both climbing more than 1.5% each.
Financials are mixed with National Bank (NAB) the only big four bank higher at lunch. NAB is advancing 1.5% on the release of its FY18 results which saw cash earnings fall 14% to $5.7 billion mainly due to restructuring and customer-related remediation costs. Excluding those factors, cash earnings fell 2% on the prior year. The result was broadly in line with analyst estimates. AMP Ltd (AMP) is jumping another 7.7% after yesterday’s near 7% rise as the wealth manager announced it looks to improve its business through cost management and recovering lost earnings. There have also been media reports of a proposed takeover.
A solid first quarter sales update for supermarket giant Woolworths (WOW) has seen its share price advance 1.4%. Total sales from its continuing operations lifted 1.9% to $14.9 billion with its Australian food (supermarket) sales lifting by the same amount but was impacted due to the removal of single use plastic bags. Coles’ owner, Wesfarmers (WES) is down 1.4%.
Losses for real estate and the communications sectors are remaining a slight weight on the market. Telstra (TLS) is down 1.8% while Scentre Group is 2% weaker.
The Aussie dollar has risen to 71.1 US cents on a much larger than expected September trade surplus of $3.017 billion (estimates of $1.7B surplus) and much improved 3Q terms of trade. So far, 1.1B units have traded worth $2.5B with 545 stocks higher, 440 lower and 294 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec