A positive lead from Wall Street and strength in the materials sector has been unable to lift the local sharemarket substantially on Tuesday as we head towards lunch. The ASX 200 is currently 2 points higher at 6192. Weighing the most on local shares are losses for healthcare, IT and consumer staples. Materials are again outperforming the market as iron ore prices received a boost on supply concerns as Brazilian producer Vale was ordered to shut one of its mines due to safety concerns. BHP Group (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) have both climbed by more than 1% while Fortescue has been more subdued, with a gain of 0.4% after lifting 5.4% yesterday.
In company news, TPG Telecom is advancing 0.3% despite a 76% slump in its 1H19 net profit to $46.9 million. The slide was primarily due to one off costs associated with the telco pulling out of its planned mobile network rollout in Australia. Taking the one off cost out of its profit, the underlying profit rose 3.5% to $225.2 million.
Westpac Bank (WBC) is the most improved of the big four banks after announcing it is exiting from providing personalised financial advice and selling some of its BT Financial Planning arm to Viridian Advisory. While the changes are expected to be EPS accretive over time, there will be a hit to its bottom line of $250-$300 million over FY19-FY20 to implement the changes.
Wisetech Global (WTC) is in a trading halt as it looks to raise $250 million in an institutional placement and $30 million via a share purchase plan to provide the logistics software firm greater balance sheet flexibility. Elsewhere, New Hope (NHC) is sliding 9.7% despite lifting its net profit by 33% to $160 million over the first half of FY19. Coal miners are generally weaker on reports that China could b expanding its bans and delays on Australian coal imports at other ports.
The Aussie dollar remains around 71 US cents but has eased from its highs from late yesterday as traders digest the release of RBA minutes from the March meeting, a small bounce in weekly consumer confidence and home prices falling 2.4% over the December quarter across the capital cities. So far, 1.1b units have traded worth $1.7b with 465 stocks higher, 438 lower and 363 unchanged. Published by CommSec