The ASX 200 is down 8 points in mid-morning trade after a quiet night. Gold and Materials Gold ↑ but banks and CDisc all lower. WES acting weird, CGF strengthens alliance and RBA’s Ellis suggests tax is a drag. US housing data ahead #ausbiz
- RBA – Speech by Luci Ellis, Assistant Governor (Economic) – “What’s Up (and Down) with Households?” – at the HIA March Industry Outlook Breakfast, Sydney. 8.15 am AEDT
- Ex-dividend – ERM Power (EPW) 7.5c, Pacific Energy (PEA) 1.0c, ,Shaver Shop Group (SSG) 2.0c
- BoJ Summary of Opinions
- UK – Finance Mortgage Approvals
- US economic data – S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Housing Starts, Building Permits, FHFA Housing Price Index, Consumer Confidence
- Lynas Corp (LYC) – Acquisition – Conditional, non-binding indicative proposal from Wesfarmers (WES) at $2.25 in cash, a premium of 44.7% to the last closing price 36.4% premium to the 60-day weighted average price of Lynas to 25 March 2019.
- Coles Group (COL) – Has entered a strategic relationship with Ocao. Coles will gain access to Ocado’s unique Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) technology – the world’s leading online grocery website, automated single pick fulfilment technology and home delivery solution. Capital expenditure inclusive of upfront Ocado fees is expected to be approximately $130-$150m over the four year development and construction period. Expected to approximately double Coles’ current Australia-wide home delivery capacity and is expected to lead to an improved profit margin for Coles Online.
- Corporate Travel Management (CTD) – Has confirmed that Managing Director, Jamie Pherous, has not sold any CTD shares and has no intention to do so. Mr Pherous has advised CTD that he will lodge the appropriate paperwork and outstanding fees as a priority this morning to seek reinstatement of his personal investment company.
- Pilbara Mineral (PLS) – no material impact to its Pilgangoora operations in the north Pilbara as a result of the recent tropical cyclone Veronica.
- Challenger (CGF) – Strategic relationship with MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings. Challenger will commence a quota share reinsurance of US dollar denominated annuities issued in the Japanese market by Mitsui Sumitomo Primary Life Insurance Company Limited (subsidiary of MS&AD), and is expected to commence from 1 July 2019. MS Primary will provide to Challenger Life an annual amount of reinsurance, across both Australian and US dollar annuities, of at least ¥50 billion (currently ~A$640 million2) per year for a minimum of five years. MS&AD also intends to increase its Challenger shareholding to over 15% of issued capital and seek representation on the Challenger Limited Board
SPI FUTURES +12
US EQUITIES – S&P 500 -2 (-0.08%), Dow +15 (+0.06%), NASDAQ -5 (-0.07%)
- Mixed session – Large range. Continued concerns about global growth dampening investor sentiment, broadly offset by optimism about the Meuller investigation
- Relative weakness from the IT and financial sector
- US bond rally extended
EUROPEAN MARKETS – All significantly lower. STOXX500 -0.45%, UK FTSE -0.42%, German DAX -0.15%, French CAC -0.18%.
- The USD is slightly weaker at 96.55
- The Aussie dollar is stronger at US71.11.
BONDS – The rally continued: 2-yr: -7 bps to 2.25%, 3-yr: -6 bps to 2.19%, 5-yr: -5 bps to 2.20%, 10-yr: -4 bps to 2.42%, 30-yr: -2 bps to 2.87%
- Oil – Mixed. WTI futures were down 0.4% to US$58.82 on the economic slowdown concerns, while Brent futures were 23 higher at $67.26c
- Iron Ore – IRESS reports that iron ore was unchanged at US$87.00. CommSec reports iron ore was down US$1.25 or 1.5% to U$84.95.
- LME metals – Mixed. Copper +0.21%, nickel -0.12%, aluminium -0.71%
ECONOMIC DATA, NEWS & POLITICS
- Fed Speak – Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said it was understandable for markets to be nervous when the yield curve flattens, but he was still confident about the US economic growth outlook.
- Rate cut expectation – Increased expectations for a rate cut as early as September. The implied probability of a cut in September is at 54.4% (37.9% on Friday). For January, the fed funds futures market sees a 76.8% implied probability of a cut (up from 63.5% on Friday).
- Apple (-1.21%) announced a TV+ service, new Apple TV app, and Apple TV Channels service, and a credit card. Reportedly, the Apple TV app will now allow Direct TV and Hulu users to access channels directly through the app. Apple TV Channels will include HBO, Showtime, CBS All Access and more.
- Attorney General William Barr briefed Congress on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The investigation “did not find that any US person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the Internet Research Agency in its efforts.” The Special Counsel did not draw a conclusion as to whether examined conduct constituted obstruction of justice. No additional indictments were recommended.
- China’s First Vice Premier Han Zheng spoke at the China Development Forum, claiming that China will continue cutting import taxes to create a first-rate environment for foreign businesses.
- China’s Finance Minister Liu Kun said that the government will speed up bond sales to boost domestic demand.
- German Ifo data was better than expected but still showed weakness in the business climate and expectations surveys.