Local shares are treading water approaching lunch on Thursday. The ASX 200 has been mostly flat for the majority of the morning but did spike briefly after the release of the May jobs report where the top 200 index hit a 20 point jump. It has now eased back by 6 points to 6537.
The energy sector has been one of the main underperformers with global crude oil prices falling 4% overnight on concerns of slowing demand and growing supplies in the US. Woodside (WPL) and Oil Search (OSH) are both easing at least 2% while Beach Energy (BPT) is sliding 3.8%. Materials are also weaker with major miners, BHP Group (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) ~0.5% softer. Healthcare, Telstra (TLS) and the banks are among the most improved.
There has been plenty of news on the company front with Wesfarmers (WES) one of the main talking points. The conglomerate is holding a strategy day and announced worse than expected performances from its department stores Kmart and Target. Annual earnings for the Kmart Group (comprises both Kmart & Target stores) is now expected between $515 million and $565 million in FY19 with slow sales hit by increased price competition and weaker consumer spending. WES has been the largest individual drag, declining 4.4%.
Investment firm, Challenger Group (GCF) is also holding an investor day and has provided underwhelming profit guidance for FY19 of $545 million to $565 million at the lower end of previous guidance, with a range of $500-$500 million for FY20. CGF shares are down 7.5%.
Elsewhere, Afterpay Touch (APT) is slumping 11.2% with news that AUSTRAC has ordered an external audit into the buy-now-pay-later firm surrounding its Anti-Money Laundering & Counter Terrorism Funding compliance obligations.
The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.2% with 42,300 jobs added over the month. Only a small portion (2,400) were full time positions with the majority part time jobs (39,800). The Aussie Dollar fell immediately after the jobs release and has drifted to 69.15 US cents from 69.28 US cents.
So far, 1.3b units have traded worth $2.5b with 482 stocks higher, 514 lower and 384 unchanged.
Published by CommSec