Local shares have started the new week a touch softer with the ASX 200 giving up 8 points or 0.15% to 5918 towards lunch. Wall St eased on Friday as investors looked to book profits at the end of the week.
The financial sector is weighing most on the broader market with the ANZ Bank (ANZ) and Macquarie Group (MQG) both lower as they trade ex-dividend. ANZ is down 3.5% while MQG is 1.5% weaker. The remaining major lenders are mixed. Healthcare and materials are also contributing to losses with BHP Billiton (BHP) leading losses for the miners while ResMed (RMD) and CSL Ltd (CSL) are both also softer.
Energy names are holding up well despite the price of crude oil falling for a tenth straight session and its longest losing streak since 1984. Investors continue to worry about slowing demand from a slowing Chinese economy while supply concerns have eased with the US granting exemptions to eight countries from sanctions over Iranian oil exports. Oil Search (OSH) and Beach Energy (BPT) are both 2.7% higher.
In company news, Healthscope (HSO) is lifting 12% after the private hospital operator received an upgraded takeover offer from private equity group Brookfield worth $4.5 billion with HSO opening its books for due diligence. Education services provider, Navitas (NVT) has rejected a takeover proposal from a private equity consortium stating that the offer undervalues the business. NVT shares are softer by 0.9%.
Agribusiness, Elders (ELD) has recorded a 9% lift in FY18underlying NPAT to $63.7 million. Underlying earnings (EBIT) also lifted 5% to $74.6 million despite dry winterconditions. ELD shares have gained 10%.
After market on Friday, Woolworths (WOW) announced it had agreed to sell its petrol business to global fuel & convenience group EG Group for $1.725 billion. The transaction is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval. Completion is expected to occur in early 2019.
The AUD has eased from its highs on Friday as it buys 72.25 US cents ahead of this week’s local wage growth and unemployment data on Wednesday and Thursday. So far 1.2B units have traded worth $2B with 413 stocks higher, 506 weaker and 325 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec