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The ASX 200 was marginally higher at lunch on Wednesday, with neither buyers nor sellers willing to commit wholeheartedly to their cause. As a result the market traded in a narrow 19 point range over the course of the morning. Information technology was the most improved sector in that time, in part reflecting an outperformance of the Nasadaq overnight. Wisetech Global (WTC) led the gains for the group rising as much as 4%, shares in cloud accounting provider Xero (XRO) were ahead by $1.01 or 2.4% to $43.36 and Afterpay Touch (APT) was ahead by 1.8% or 25 cents to $13.82.
Gains for financials ensured that the market held its ground over the morning. The big four lenders posted modest gains, shares in Macquarie Group (MQG) were ahead by 90 cents or 0.8% to $115.89 and money managers generally moved ahead, shares in Perpetual Limited (PPT) rose 41 cents or 1.3% to $32.97
Losses were led by the materials sector with all of the bulk miners lower; Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) shares were 4 cents or 0.9% lower at $4.50. Property Trusts and Utilities were also noted under performers – Goodman Group (GMG) was down 0.8% or 9 cents at $11.41 and AGL (AGL) eased 10 cents to $21.16.
Michael Hill International (MHJ) shares were 1 cents firmer at $0.61 after reporting FY19Q2 sales. MHJ said group revenues from continued operations and same store sales were -1.3% and -2.9% respectively, an improvement on the first quarter performance which saw the same measures fall -8.8% and -11.0% respectively in FY19Q1. Additionally the jeweller highlighted a positive Christmas sales period. Compared to the previous year, group revenues for continued operations and same store sales increased by 2.9% and 1.3% respectively during the combined November and December Christmas period, the largest trading months for MHJ each year.
GPT Group (GPT) announced plans to sell its 50% share of the MLC Centre in Sydney’s Martin Place. The site comprises 66,829 square metres of office space, 6,013 square metres of retail space, a theatre, and 308 car spaces. The proceeds from the sale will be invested in the group’s development pipeline, which includes the new office tower at 32 Smith Street, Parramatta, and a planned new office tower at Melbourne Central. GPT shares were lately flat at $5.52
Education provider Navitas (NVT) added to yesterdays near 13% gain. The shares edged higher by 0.5% to $5.56 helped by broker upgrades in response to the revised takeover proposal from private equity consortium BGH a day earlier. Elsewhere graphite miner Syrah Resources (SYR) continued to benefit from recent positive news flow, including an announcement that commercial production had commenced at the group’s Balama Graphite Operation in Mozambique. At lunch SYR shares were 3% or 7 cents higher at $2.04 , in the process gaining 18% in the last 3 days.
In economic news, the monthly measure for consumer confidence compiled by Westpac and the Melbourne Institute fell 4.7% to 99.6 in January , this was in contrast to the ANZ/Roy Morgan weekly surveys. Elsewhere, the seasonally adjusted estimate for the total number of dwelling units commenced fell 5.7% to 54,803 dwellings in the September quarter, following a fall of 4.7% in the June quarter. Neither outcome had a meaningful impact on the local currency, which has firmed over the morning to be at 71.98 US cents.
Published by CommSec