Local shares are stumbling towards lunch after notching early gains in the session. The ASX 200 index is now lower by 8 points or 0.13% to 6088.5 after being higher by as much as 20 points early on.
Of the sector performance, the financials, communications and consumer discretionary sectors are giving the broader market the biggest boost. On the other hand, miners and the energy sector are the main drags while IT and industrials are among the other major weaknesses.
With the February reporting season kicking into full gear towards the end of the month, it has been another busy morning of company results being released.
Some of the most improved stocks on the top 200 index have released earnings today. The largest percentage gain has been for online travel agency, Webjet Ltd (WEB) with a 33% jump in its share price. Revenue lifted 33% to $175.3 million over the first half of FY19 while earnings (EBITDA) soared 42% to $58 million. WEB’s recent acquisition of WebBeds was the largest contributor to EBITDA gains.
Nine Entertainment (NEC) has seen a bump to its share price by 6.8% with the media business benefitting from its merger with Fairfax Media in late 2018. Wesfarmers (WES) is also 6% higher as first half net profit improved 10% to $1.08 billion, excluding discontinued operations such as Coles and Kmart Tyre and Auto Services. WES is also paying a special dividend to shareholders of $1/share on top of its $1 interim dividend.
Coca-Cola Amatil (CCL) shares are sliding 1.7% as the beverage company took a hit to FY18 net profit after tax (NPAT) due to a write-down in its SPC division. NPAT fell 37% to $279 million. Earnings in its largest market of Australia also fell 8.8% to $376.1 million. Energy company, Santos (STO) is also lower despite swinging into an annual profit in 2018 of US$630 million from a US$360 million loss in 2017. STO is down 1.3%
The Aussie dollar has firmed and is hovering around 72 UScents following better than expected jobs numbers for January with 39,100 jobs added compared to estimates of 15,000 jobs added. The unemployment rate held steady at 5%. So far, 1.1b units have been traded worth $3.6b with 456 stocks higher, 473 lower and 359 unchanged. Published by CommSec