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Local shares are off to weaker start to the day with US markets closed overnights and many Asian markets still closed for the Lunar New Year. Attention turned to the European markets with major bourses falling overnight. The ASX 200 is softer by 18 points or 0.3% to 5923 points, reversing some of yesterday’s 0.65% gain, but off the lowest levels of today’s session where the index was down 0.45%.
Most sectors are lower with financials, materials and healthcare weighing most. The big four banks are reversing most of the gains seen yesterday with Westpac (WBC) leading the losses, down 1%. Meanwhile, BHP is the main weight among miners with Australia’s largest miner falling 1.5% followed by a 0.8% drop in Rio Tinto (RIO). The energy sector is flat while the utilities and IT sector is recording gains.
On another busy day of company earnings, telco Vocus Group (VOC) is down 10% on its half year underlying net profit slump of 25% $68.6 million. VOC has decided not to pay an interim dividend and has revised its underlying earnings (EBITDA) guidance lower to a range between $365-380 million. Super Retail Group (SUL) is also lower on its earnings release with the auto and leisure sports retailer sliding 15% after reporting a 2% lift in revenue to $1.3 billion on a like-for-like basis. SUL has also agreed to acquire Macpac Holdings for NZ$144 million. Seven West Media (SWM) is faring far better as its stock climbs 10.8%. The media company lifted underlying EBIT by 7% to $159.3 million. SWM also managed to cut expenses by 13.8% and has maintained its full year underlying EBIT guidance of $220-240 million.
Sydney Airport (SYD) shares are 0.9% higher on lifting its January traffic for both domestic and international travellers by 1.4% compared to a year ago. SYD did see a 26% drop in Chinese passengers over the month as Lunar New Year fell in February this year instead of January. McGrath Ltd (MEA) announced after market yesterday that it has appointed two new directors to its board. Founder and Executive Director, John McGrath is now looking to update its corporate plan and restructure its management team. MEA shares are down 1.16%.
Economics, CBA Business Sales Indicator showed that January recorded the fastest spending growth in four years, up 1.1% in trend terms. Reserve Bank board minutes were released. The Aussie dollar has slipped below US79c to US78.95c. So far, 1.6B units have traded worth $2.1B with 494 stocks higher, 551 lower and 381 unchanged.
Published by CommSec