Local shares have made a positive start to the new trading week with the ASX 200 lifting 14 points or 0.25% to 5789. It was a flat lead from Wall St as market participants look ahead to US earnings and key Chinese economic data released this week.
The financials are helping lift the broader market most as the four major banks climb higher. ANZ Bank (ANZ) is the leading the way as it lifts 0.9%. Communications are also improving with Telstra (TLS) up 1.4%. Media stocks are also off to a solid start with Nine Entertainment (NEC) and Seven West Media (SWM) both gaining more than 3%.
Among the main weights are energy and consumer discretionary names. Oil prices fell by 1.9% on Friday, snapping a 9-day winning streak as investors booked profits after solid gains. Oil Search (OSH) is down 0.8% while Woodside (WPL) is easing 0.6%.
Wesfarmers (WES) is the main weight on the market. The conglomerate is sliding 2.5% as it provided an update on its balance sheet following the sale of several businesses including Coles Supermarkets and Kmart Tyre & Auto Service. Net debt is expected to reduce from $3.6b to $0.3b. A mixed trading update for retail brands Kmart and Target were also provided. Kmart saw comparable sales decline by 0.6% for the half year while Target saw a 0.5% lift in comparable sales over the same period. WES will announce more details for its half yearly results on 21 February 2019.
Retail Food Group (RFG) has responded to media speculation that it is looking to sell its Crust Pizza brand in a bid to reduce current debt levels. RFG stated it is an ongoing process and has not reached an agreement with a buyer. RFG shares have jumped 13.5%.
Syrah Resources (SYR) is advancing by 3.5% with the graphite miner commencing commercial production at its Balama Graphite operation in Mozambique. 33kt of natural graphite was produced over 4Q18 with 104kt was produced over 2018.
The Aussie dollar remains near 72.1 US cents with little local economic data to move the needle. So far, 0.6b units have been traded worth $0.9b with 492 stocks higher, 352 lower and 337 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec