The share market recouped yesterday’s losses as bank stocks rose from multi-week lows, and a strong result from Xero boosted the tech sector.
The ASX 200 advanced 39 points or 0.6 per cent to 6699 by mid-session, erasing yesterday’s 37-point loss and setting up a potential break in a run of intraday fades this week. The benchmark index has failed to hold early gains three times this week, finishing each session well below its peak.
The financial sector bounced off its weakest level in two months as investors found the positives in a downbeat earnings report from NAB that brought the curtain down on a grim reporting season for the big four. Shareholders breathed a sigh of relief as the bank maintained its dividend despite announcing a 13.6 per cent decline in net profit. The result included a $1.1 billion charge for remediating problems exposed by the Royal Commission. CEO Philip Chronican described the past year as “very challenging”. Shares rose 2.3 per cent.
CBA advanced for a third day, adding 1 per cent. ANZ edged up 0.1 per cent. Westpac gained 0.7 per cent.
The tech sector also rebounded from two-month lows as accounting software specialist Xero surged to a record and buy-now-pay-later firm Z1P unveiled a deal with Amazon. Shares in Xero jumped 7.2 per cent after the company announced a 32 per cent increase in operating revenue as subscribers passed the two million mark. Z1P flew up 16.3 per cent after the company beat out Afterpay and other contenders to be Amazon Australia’s first instalment payment option. The deal includes the issue of warrants to an Amazon affiliate that could hand the multinational a stake of more than 4 per cent in the Australian firm.
Supermarkets Coles and Woolworths both rose strongly. Coles added 1.4 per cent, Woolworths 1.6 per cent.
A profit upgrade sent James Hardie to an all-time high. Shares in the fibre cement manufacturer rose 6.1 per cent after the company raised its full-year net operating profit guidance after increasing half-year profit by 17 per cent to $US188.8 million.
Flight Centre sagged 5.1 per cent after warning profit before tax for the half year would fall below last year’s $140.4 million first-half result. Managing Director Graham Turner attributed the decline to global uncertainties, including Brexit, unrest in Hong Kong, and a downturn in travel to the Dominican Republic, an important destination for US clients.
The morning’s economic news included a modest improvement in a measure of activity in the construction sector. The Australian Industry Group’s Performance of Construction Index edged up to 43.9 from 42.6 last month, but remained well below the 50-point level that signals expansion.
What’s hot today and what’s not:
Hot today: agribusiness ECS Botanics briefly surged more than 50 per cent after announcing it had gained shelf space for its hemp oil in Australia’s largest supermarket chain, Woolworths. The oil is of the non-psychoactive variety and is marketed as a salad dressing. Shares in the Tasmanian company were lately up 1.5 cents or 36.6 per cent at 5.6 cents.
Not today: mining services company Perenti Global has enjoyed a strong year, with the share price more than doubling from just above the dollar mark in January to a high of $2.40 on Tuesday. Shares slumped 11.4 per cent this morning on news that employees were among 37 people killed in an attack on a mining company convoy in Burkina Faso. The West African country is dealing with an Islamist insurgency.
markets mirrored a flat night on Wall Street. China’s Shanghai
Composite dipped 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.1 per cent and
Japan’s Nikkei inched up 0.1 per cent. S&P 500 index futures slipped two points
or less than 0.1 per cent.
Turning to commodity markets, Brent crude futures edged up three cents or 0.1 per cent this morning to $US61.77 a barrel. Gold eased 90 cents or 0.1 per cent to $US1,492.20 an ounce.
On currency markets, the dollar faded a fifth of a cent to 68.65 US cents.