The ASX 200 is up 38 points in mid morning trade after US markets eased. Basking in the Budget. Energy & Staples lag. IT & Materials lead. NAN French update, FNP lactoferrin, A2M & NHF pressos. Retail sales and Chinese services PMI, with ADP jobs tonight.  #ausbiz


  • Ex-dividend – Harvey Norman (HVN) 12.0c, Prime Financial Group (PFG) 0.2c, Sigma Group (SIG) 2c
  • Economic data – AIG Services Index, Balance of Trade, Imports/Exports, Retail Sales
  • Japanese data – Nikkei Services PMI
  • Chinese data – Caixin Composite PMI, Caixin Services PMI


  • European data – Markit Composite PMI Final, Markit Services PMI Final, Retail Sales
  • UK – Markit/CIPS UK Services PMI
  • US economic data – ADP Employment Change, Trade Balance, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Manufacturing Index


  • A2Milk (A2M) – Presentation.


  • Nib Holdings (NHF) – Presentation to the Australian Private Health Forum. Market conditions are very weak but claims inflation is favourable. Big picture challenges include: Financial sustainability (over reliance tax and indemnity); Unwarranted and preventable care (allocative inefficiency); Massive cost variation (technical inefficiency); Limited consumer sovereignty (information asymmetry); Rise and rise of chronic disease (moral hazard); Inequities in healthcare; Preoccupation with “sickcare” and “one size fits all” healthcare. Mark’s crystal ball for PHI: arhi growth remains stagnant until able to expand coverage and value proposition; Data science becomes a source of competitive advantage; Industry consolidation both domestic and international; Outsourcing of government and other third party healthcare programs; Experimentation with primary care integration and lower cost settings of care
  • Spark New Zealand (SPK) – Jolie Hodson to succeed Simon Moutter with effect from 1 July 2019
  • ASX – Monthly Activity report. Average daily traded value $5.976bn, up 15% on pcp. Over March FYTD, average is $5.384, up on 4.792bn average for FYTD Mar18.
  • Nanosonics (NAN) – The French Ministry of Health has released updated guidance for the appropriate disinfection of endocavitary ultrasound probes. The recommendations now require that endocavitary ultrasound probes undergo intermediate level disinfection even if a sheath is used. NAN’s Trophon meets both intermediate and high level disinfection and this news further supports NAN’s growth plans in Europe.
  • Eclipx (ECX) /McMillan Shakespeare (MMS) – Have terminated schemem implementation and ECX will reimburse MMS for costs of $8m.
  • Freedom Foods (FNP) – Update on Lactoferrin production at its new Nutritionals capability at Shepparton. Has an initial installed annual capacity of 16 tonnes of Lactoferrin. Expects sales of Lactoferrin to commence late in the 4th quarter FY 2019, has received strong market inquiry for its Lactoferrin capacity and expects to sell its available capacity into FY 2020. “The Nutritionals capability is expected to deliver a material earnings contribution in FY 2020.”




US EQUITIES – S&P 500 -0 (+0.00%), Dow -79 (-0.30%), NASDAQ +20 (+0.25%)

Main themes

  • Markets ease after strong performance earlier in the week

EUROPEAN MARKETS – All positive. STOXX600 +0.35%, UK FTSE +1.01%, German DAX +0.62%, French CAC +0.33%.


  • The USD is stronger at 97.29, rising to a 3-week high
  • The Aussie dollar is weaker at US70.72.

BONDS – 2-yr: -2 bps to 2.30%, 3-yr: -3 bps to 2.25%, 5-yr: -3 bps to 2.29%, 10-yr: -2 bps to 2.48%, 30-yr: -1 bp to 2.88%


  • Oil – WTI futures is up US99c or 1.6% to US$62.58 a barrel,
  • Iron Ore – IRESS reports that iron ore was unchanged at $86.500. CommSec reports iron ore was up US$1.75 or 2.0% to U$89.65.
  • LME metals – Mixed. Copper -0.49%, nickel +0.27%, aluminium -0.63%


  • US economic data – February Durable Orders -1.6% (consensus -0.9%; prior 0.1%) and Durable Orders, ex-transportation 0.1% (consensus 0.2%; prior -0.1%)
  • Walgreen Boots (-12.6%) on weaker than expected earnings and a lower forecast for 2019.
  • Global growth – IMF MD Christine Lagarde said while global growth has lost momentum amid rising trade tensions and tighter financial conditions, pauses in rate hikes will help boost activity in the second half of 2019.
  • Japanese trade – Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi wiill travel to the US this month to conduct trade talks with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
  • The RBA left its cash rate at 1.50%, as expected. The RBA’s policy statement noted that monetary policy will be set in a way to support sustainable growth in the economy while the reference to expectations for growth of about 3.0% in 2019 was removed from the directive. The Australian government, meanwhile, lowered its GDP growth forecast for 2019 to 2.75% from 3.00%.
  • Brexit – Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet is expected to decide today whether to bring her deal up for another vote. Meanwhile, MPs from different parties are expected to present a bill that would rule out a no-deal Brexit on April 12, which is currently the default position.
  • UK data – March Construction PMI 49.7 (expected 49.8, previous 49.5).

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