The Aussie market erased some of its early gains following the release of hotter-than-expected inflation data, but still lifted for the third straight day, after the ASX 200 rose by 0.18 per cent or 12.3 points to 6810.9. Eight sectors and 69 per cent of stocks in the ASX 200 gained ground. The mining sector added 0.3 per cent despite coal miners Whitehaven Coal (WHC) and Coronado Global Resources (CRN) posting back to back losses. The Property sector rose 2.5 per cent but the Consumer Staples sector fell 2.4 per cent, its biggest decline since August, after being weighed by Woolworths (WOW) and Coles Group (COL). The Big 4 banks all rose, broader Financials sector ended on a flat note.
On the economic front, quarterly inflation data was issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The annual inflation rate rose to 7.3 per cent – the highest annual rate in 32 years – and was higher than expectations of a 7 per cent annual rate. The quarterly rate of 1.8 per cent also exceeded expectations of a 1.6 per cent lift. Higher-than-expected inflation rates increase the likelihood of the Reserve Bank lifting the interest rate by a faster pace.
Medibank (MPL) exited a four-day trading halt today and slipped 18 per cent, after its customer database was compromised in a cybersecurity incident. The health insurer said that ‘all Medibank customers’ personal data and significant amounts of health claims data’ has been accessed by a criminal. MPL estimates a $25 million – $35 million impact to its 1H bottom line, and has withdrawn its FY23 policyholder growth outlook.
Coles Group (COL) released a trading update this morning and slipped 2.7 per cent. It said that its sales increased by 1.3 per cent over the year, but told investors that it expects cost price inflation to ‘increase in the second quarter’. Woolworths (WOW), which today said that it expects its ‘operating environment to remain challenging’, also shed 3.2 per cent.
Costa Group (CGC) was the best performing stock today on the ASX 200, rising 10.8 per cent. The horticulture company noted that private equity firm, Paine Schwartz, has ‘obtained a relevant interest in 13.78 per cent of the issued securities of CGC’. Paine Schwartz has ‘no current intention’ of making an acquisition offer.
Top Australian Brokers
In its AGM today, Whitehaven Coal (WHC) advised investors that ‘labour supply constraints’, ‘inflationary cost impacts’ and ‘COVIDinduced supply chain disruptions’ will ‘remain an ongoing feature of FY23’. It also mentioned that flooding has ‘impacted operations’ at open cut mines, thereby ‘hampering production’. The coal miner also commenced a share buy-back programme for ‘up to 240 million shares’. This is in addition to the share buy-back which it announced on March 8. Shares closed 8.1 per cent lower.
The US earnings season continues tonight with Meta, Facebook’s parent company, expected to release earnings updates.
Today, 3.3bn shares were traded, worth $7.3bn. 709 stocks rose, 620 fell & 412 finished unchanged.
Originally published by Divik Nigam – (Author), CommSec