Market wrap

A solid start gave way to profit taking as the finance sector reversed all engines and the Iron Ore producers suffered. After the early surge to 5461 we closed down 6 at 5434 on lacklustre trading. Financials like IOOF Holdings Limited (A$9.20, -4.9%) (reported today)Magellan Financial Group Limited (A$13.43, -1.4%), Perpetual Limited (A$50.75, -1.9%) and Platinum Asset Management Limited (A$7.27, -0.5%) fell while Macquarie Group Limited (A$55.82, +0.9%),Bt Investment Management Limited (A$6.38, unch) and Henderson Group PLC. (A$4.47, +0.2%) rose with Treasury Group Limited (A$9.22, +6.5%) also reporting good numbers. Miners were weaker led by recent high flier BHP Billiton Limited (A$39.10, -0.7%) as gas prices and iron ore prices fell, RIO Tinto Limited (A$68.62, -1.3%) and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (A$5.84, -2.5%) joined in as did Bluescope Steel Limited (A$6.20, -1.6%),Arrium Limited (A$1.64, -3.2%) and Sims Metal Management Limited (A$9.84, -1.3%). Gold stocks failed to fire despite gains in the price overnight with small changes across the board. Newcrest Mining Limited (A$11.48, +0.4%),Beadell Resources Limited (A$0.79, -1.9%),Evolution Mining Limited (A$0.95, unch),Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (A$1.295, +2.8%),Silver Lake Resources Limited (A$0.705, +1.4%),Regis Resources Limited (A$2.74, +1.5%) and Medusa Mining Limited (A$2.18, -1.4%) a mixed bag.

In industrial land Amcor Limited (A$10.48, -1.7%) slipped Orora Limited (A$1.305, -3.3%) ,Fletcher Building Limited (A$9.00, -1.0%),Csr Limited (A$3.13, -2.2%) and Boral Limited (A$5.55, -0.5%) eased. Healthcare stocks were mixed but Ramsay Health Care Limited (A$47.54, +6.7%) numbers shot the lights out but failing to rub off with others in the sector. Cabcharge Australia Limited (A$4.27, +6.0%) defied the sceptics following Victorian taxi changes and the rise of the app top have a good result and solid day. Seek Limited (A$16.90, +4.1%) continued its march higher and Macquarie Atlas Roads Group (A$2.96, +0.3%) knocked on the door of $3.00.Consumer stocks eased as confidence numbers eased back too. David Jones Limited (A$3.22, -2.4%) and Myer Holdings Limited (A$2.55, -3.0%) look set to crank up the excel spreadsheets to work out if the merger will work. The rival cultures will take some serious integrating me thinks. Wesfarmers Limited (A$42.70, -0.2%) and Woolworths Limited (A$36.60, +0.1%) went in opposite directions and Woodside Petroleum Limited (A$37.66, -0.9%) continued to fall.

Winners are grinners and today we had good solid gains from the likes of Ramsay Health Care Limited (A$47.54, +6.7%),Northern Star Resources Ltd (A$1.27, +5.8%),Chorus Limited (A$1.39, +4.9%),Trade Me Group Limited (A$3.83, +3.0%),Seek Limited (A$16.90, +4.1%),Sirius Resources NL (A$2.57, +3.2%) and Monadelphous Group Limited (A$18.09, +2.4%) whilst looking sad and lonely in the corner were Transfield Services Limited (A$0.90, -9.1%),#Beach Energy Limited (A$1.55, -6.6%),IOOF Holdings Limited (A$9.20, -4.9%),Ainsworth Game Technology Limited (A$4.30, -3.6%),Energy Developments Limited (A$5.65, -4.4%) and Arrium Limited (A$1.64, -3.2%). Volume was still quite solid although seemed to be mainly computers as mums and dads stay firmly out and happy to buy property.

Asian markets were better after the falls yesterday, Shanghai slipped 0.3% but HK and Tokyo were up 0.47% and 1.3% respectively. Gold eased in Asia down to $1332 and the Aussie dollar rose above 90c to 90.2c and digital tulips hit $527.

Stocks and Stories

In house stocks, Buru Energy Limited (A$1.43, -7.4%) updated the market on its Ungani 3 well. Shouldn’t have! Nexus Energy Limited (A$0.059, unch) remain in a trading halt pending bad news. Mining services continued their slow motion crash landing with Boart Longyear Limited (A$0.345, -4.2%),Macmahon Holdings Limited (A$0.125, -3.8%),Maca Limited (A$2.40, -4.0%) and Bradken Limited (A$4.50, -1.3%) in ones we follow, looking stuffed.

The market is waiting with baited breath for the Qantas Airways Limited (A$1.235, -0.4%) results on Thursday. Suspect the profit(loss) number will be irrelevant to the number of jobs being cut. The more they cut the better the stock will look. Maybe they should just chop the whole airline and just keep the Frequent flyer program!

QBE Insurance Group Limited (A$12.27, +5.3%) shocked the market again today and went up. We are so used to hearing bad news, downgrades and catastrophe losses that today’s number wasn’t so bad. Reported loss of $US254 million ($281 million) for the year to December after its troubled US division hit earnings. That compared to a net profit of $US761 million a year earlier.

Mcpherson’S Limited (A$1.20, unch) is heading towards its second consecutive annual loss after writing off goodwill and brand values by almost $80 million in the December-half.

IOOF Holdings Limited (A$9.20, -4.9%) underwhelmed the market today with funds under management jumping $3.8 billion to $124 billion in 2013.

COVER-MORE Group Limited has matched its prospectus forecasts but is no longer paying a dividend. They posted an EBITA of $18.8 million, up from $13.3 million netted in 2013. The group’s net profit jumped 53.9 per cent to $12.1 million.

Veda Group Limited reported a statutory loss after tax of $12.5 million due to the costs of its December 6 float and pre-IPO financing costs for the half year to December 31.Revenue rose 13.2 per cent to $146.8 million, with operating costs excluding the IPO costs up 5.3 per cent to $84.7 million for the company’s first half year report.

Ramsay Health Care Limited (A$47.54, +6.7%) had a cracker ,right out of the blocks with a 16% rise in first half core net profits.UK and France going well and dividend up 17% to 34 c fully franked.

China’s Yuan tumbled by the most in 22 months on speculation the central bank to ultimately widen the trading band and prove to speculators that it is not just a one way bet.

Tomorrow’s News Today

China has overtaken India as the biggest buyer of gold. Usage surged 41 percent to 1,176.4 metric tons in 2013 from the year before, according to data from the China Gold Association today. Output rose 6.2 percent to 428.16 tons, making China the largest producer for a seventh year. Making the Hunt Brothers look like amateurs!

JP Morgan holding an investor day on Tuesday and set to announce another wave of job cuts from its quarter of a million staff!!

Amazing to think that the UK FTSE has closed at a 14 year high! The all-time high of 6930 was set in 1999 at the height of the dot com boom but yesterday’s news that Dixons and The Car Warehouse may be getting together helped things along.

Big fall from grace for one time rich lister Matthew Perrin who was the boss and founder along with others of Billabong. He is now facing trail for (alleged)ripping off the Commonwealth Bank for $30,000.

Looks like the Russians are ratcheting up the rhetoric on their claims on the Ukraine. This one is not over yet as ‘Ras’Putin won’t go quietly and let this vast country go to the fun side of the island. The battle for hearts and minds is on!

The U.S. fiscal deficit narrowed to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product last year from 10 percent in 2009, according to Treasury Department data. Germany had a surplus equivalent to 0.1 percent of GDP at the end of 2012.

Italy’s newly sworn-in Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is proposing radical reforms including cutting payroll tax, boosting unemployment benefits and more toppings on Pizza to stimulate the local economy. The strange thing is this guy isn’t even an MP! He is the leader but he is the Mayor of Florence. Oh and he wants to scrap the entire Italian political system, probably as he is not a member of it!

Almost a fifth of mortgage holders are in arrears in Ireland – the majority more than three months behind their payments. In its latest analysis of the Irish property market at the start of 2014, the ratings agency Fitch said one in five houses where mortgages had been in arrears for three months or more was likely to be repossessed.

That is all