The local sharemarket is mostly flat so far in a choppy session of trade. The ASX 200 is marginally higher by 6 points or 0.1% to 6066 points towards lunch after trading in a narrow 18 point band. There was a weak lead from global markets overnight with weaker than expected December retail sales data weighing on US markets.
The improvements in the energy and communications sector are being offset by losses among health and IT stocks. The financials are mostly flat with a mixed performance from the major banks while major miners BHP Group (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are also weaker.
Energy stocks are benefitting from another rise in global oil prices. Woodside (WPL) is up 1.5% following a 1.9% jump on the release of its FY18 profit results yesterday. Beach Energy (BPT) is lifting 3.5%.
Domain Holdings (DHG) has bounced 17% even with the real estate listing firm recording a $156 million net loss for the first half with $177.5 million write-down impacting its bottom line. Listings also fell as the housing marketcontinues to cool, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. Underlying NPAT was $21.1 million, a fall of 14%, and residential revenue still lifted 8.6% to 93.6 million. Nine Entertainment (NEC), which holds a stake in DHG after its merger with Fairfax Media, is also climbing 10%.
Medibank Private (MPL) is advancing 5.8% on a lift to health insurance premium revenue by 2.1% to $3.24 billion with 6,400 new policyholders added over the half. Net profit fell 15% from a decline in investment income due to challenging market conditions. Whitehaven Coal (WHC) has fallen 10% with total coal sales falling 9% to 8.4Mt while production was also lower by around 8%. WHC still lifted net profit by 19% and is paying a special dividend. Automotive Holdings (AHG) is down 8% as it expects approximately $266 million in impairment charges from its auto retail and refrigerated logistics divisions on softer market conditions.
The Aussie dollar has weakened to 70.87 US cents against the greenback following a speech by the RBA Assistant Governor, Christopher Kent, in the benefits of adepreciating AUD. So far, 0.9b units have been traded worth $2.2b with 476 stocks higher, 450 lower and 375 unchanged. Published by CommSec