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The solid start to the holiday-shortened week was short lived, with the ASX 200 fading from the morning’s gains in excess of 2 per cent. At lunch, the index is down 21.5pts or 0.41 per cent to 5,265.3. Some early positive signs that lockdowns are working to slow the pace of infection and mortality rates seemed to initially encourage markets. The Dow Jones rose by more than 7 per cent last night. Australia continues to flatten the COVID-19 curve of infection, death tolls in Italy, Spain and France have slowed and New York recorded its first daily drop in new cases yet.

The market is still around 25 per cent away from its February 20 record highs.

Flight Centre (FLT) has resumed trade today and is up 8.5 per cent after raising $562m from investors at $7.20 per share (institutional investors). It expects to raise a further $128m from retail investors. The troubled travel agent expects to use the proceeds of the offer to strengthen its balance sheet. FLT last traded on March 19.

Computershare (CPU) has cut its FY20 earnings guidance. It now expects EPS to be down around 20 per cent compared to FY19 (flagged a ~15 per cent decline as likely on March 11). It expects profits to be impacted by earlier than expected rate cuts and reduced transactional revenues.

Oil Search (OSH) announced details of its US$700m capital raising this morning. The PNG based LNG producer expects to use the funds to strengthen its balance sheet and increase liquidity, “…so that Oil Search can withstand a prolonged period of low oil prices.”

The number of job advertisements slumped by 10.3 per cent in March according to an ANZ survey. This follows an upwardly revised +1.2 per cent in February (up from +0.7 per cent). Australia recorded a $4.361bn trade surplus in February. While this was down on January, the result was above economist forecasts of a $3.8bn surplus. Consumer confidence rose by 10.1 per cent according to the results of a weekly survey out today. Some consumers seemed encouraged by the recent announcement of the Federal Government’s $130bn wage subsidy program.

Air New Zealand (AIZ) has appointed former Spark HR Director, Joe McCollum as its Chief People Office effective April 14. AIZ shares are up 1.8 per cent today after falling by 61 per cent in March. Airlines have plummeted due to the grounding of planes.

BlueScope (BSL) is looking to cut costs in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. This will include cutting CAPEX while also cancelling its on-market buyback.

2.5bn shares have changed hands so far worth $4.6bn. 760 stocks are up, 403 are down and 250 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec