The ASX is down 43 points in mid morning trade after a very quiet night in the US. Sacking of Rex the focus. Gold the only shiny sector. No key company news. Banking royal commission the main focus. Ex-divs include CSL 100.5c #ausbiz
- Ex-divided – Austal (ASB) 2.0c, Codan (CDA) 4.0c, Costa Group Holdings (CGC) 5.0c, CSL (CSL) 100.5c, Data3 (DTL) 1.6c, IVE Group (IGL) 8.0c, Iron Mountain (INM) 51.8c, Landmark White (LMW) 2.6c, Mercury NZ (MCY) 5.6c, Metlifecare (MEQ) 2.6c, Michael Hill International (MHJ) 2.5c, Motorcycle Holdings (MTO) 5.5c, New Zealand King Salmon Investments (NZK) 1.9c, PM Capital Asian Opportunities Fund (PAF) 2.5c, Plato Income Maximiser (PL8) 0.5c, RCR Tomlinson (RCR) 2.5c, Smartgroup Corporation (SIQ) 18.5c, Sky Network TV (SKT) 7.0c, Service Stream (SSM) 3.0c, Tassal Group (TGR) 8.0c, Thorney Opportunities (TOP) 0.6c.
- Chinese data today – Fixed Asset Investment, Industrial Production, Retail Sales
- BoJ Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes
- Japanese data – Machinery Orders
- European data – Industrial Production, Employment Change
- US data – MBA Mortgage Index, Retail Sales, PPI/Core PPI, Business Inventories
- Bank Royal Commission continues today – The focus yesterday was NAB’s referrer loan scheme which saw significant loans raised and was very profitable…but which involved fraud at a variety of branches.
- Speedcast (SDA) – Release of ordinary shares from escrow. 618,844 ordinary shares, which were issued in March 2016 at the time of the NewCom International acquisition, will be released from escrow on 31 March 2018
- Regis Resources (RRL $4.45) – Macquarie has upgraded to an Outperform (from Neutral) recommendation with a target price of $5.00 (from $4.60). After an inferred underground resource estimate for Rosemont of 1.4mt at 5.1g/t for 230,000 ozs, using a 2.0g/t cut-off grade, Macquarie thinks there are options in the Duketon portfolio to extend mine life. The analyst thought the grades at Rosemont Main are particularly encouraging and with the additional underground resources, has increase EPS estimates in FY20 by 26%.
- Southern Cross Media (SXL $1.04) – Macquarie has upgraded to an Outperform (from Neutral) recommendation with a target price of $1.18. The analyst doesn’t think that the improved operating momentum in metro radio and regional TV is priced in at current levels. With continued improvements in ratings surveys,they think there could be upside risk to earnings forecasts.
- Ozforex Group (OFX $1.55) – Macquarie has raised its target price from $1.54 to $1.71. After an investor briefing, the analyst sees positive operating performance in 2H. They note the opportunities for revenue growth in a fragmented FX and cross-border market but accept the risk of competition.
SPI FUTURES -34
US EQUITIES – S&P500 -18 (-0.64%), Dow Jones -172 (-0.68%), Nasdaq -77 (-1.02%)
Main themes –
- Large range on the Dow of over 300 points, while the technology sector underperformed
- US President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to be replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo
EUROPEAN MARKETS – All lower. STOXX -0.98%, UK FTSE -1.05%, German Dax -1.59%, French CAC -0.64%.
- The US dollar was down 0.23% at 89.68.
- The Aussie dollar is little changed at US78.57c.
BONDS – 2-yr: UNCH at 2.26%, 5-yr: -1 bp to 2.63%,10-yr: -2 bps to 2.85%, 30-yr: -3 bps to 3.10%
- WTI oil was down US65c or 1.10% at US$60.71. In addition to Trumps administration changes – which raised speculation that Trump could scrap the Iran nuclear deal, which could disrupt Iranian oil supplies and send prices higher – government forecast showed US shale oil output is expected to rise to a record 6.95mbpd in April and Libya said loadings of crude oil at Zawiya, which exports oil from the El Sharara field, had been suspended.
- Gold futures were up 0.44% at $1326.18.
- Iron ore fell US$2.50 or nearly 3.4% to $70.50.
- LME metals were all stronger – copper +0.46%, nickel +1.46%, aluminium +0.57%.
ECONOMIC DATA, NEWS & POLITICS
- US economic data – February CPI 0.2% (consensus 0.2%; prior 0.5%) and Core CPI 0.2% (consensus 0.2%; prior 0.3%) were both in line with expectations; Annual CPI rose to 2.2% from 2.1%, while annual core CPI growth was unchanged at 1.8%. The key point is that inflationary pressures are not accelerating and the prospects for 3 rate hikes from the Federal Reserve this year remains in place. February NFIB Small Business Optimism Index 107.6 (prior 106.9) hit a 13-year high
- Qualcomm (-4.49%) fell after President Donald Trump blocked Broadcom’s (0.84%) proposed buyout of Qualcomm, citing concerns based on national security. Both companies have been ordered to abandon this deal immediately.
- European data – French Q4 Nonfarm Payrolls +0.3% qoq, as expected (last 0.3%); Italian Unemployment Rate 11.0%, as expected (last 11.2%); Spanish February CPI +0.1% as expected (last -1.1%) and +1.1%yoy, as expected (last 0.6%)
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein, German physicist born this day in 1879. Died 18 April, 1955