ASX 200 shies away from 5900 with a 23-point gain to 5896. Consumer stocks, healthcare and financials continue the momentum. Asian markets weaker with Japan down 0.39% and China off 1%. AUD higher at 76.61c and US Futures up 17 points.

STOCKS AND SECTORS

  • Banks and financials modestly higher after a huge run. The Big Bank Basket rose modestly to $187.54. Bank of Queensland (BOQ) +2.56% rebounded strongly from a disappointing start post the result. Clearly the conference call went well. Wealth Managers rose led by Henderson Group (HGG) +1.06% and BT Investment (BTT) +1.72%. REITs strengthened too with Westfield (WFD) +0.34% pricing a US$500m issue of senior guaranteed notes.
  • Miners mixed as BHP +0.42%, RIO +0.23% and Fortescue Metals (FMG) +0.65%. Base metals stocks eased Syrah Resources (SYR) -5.90% and Metals X (MLX) -4.70%.
  • Gold stocks down again as well Gold Road (GOR) -3.39%, Regis Resources (RRL) -2.07% and St Barbara (SBM) -2.03%
  • Energy stocks green on screen, Woodside (WPL) +1.22%, Oil Search (OSH) +1.25% and Beach Energy (BPT) +3.18%.
  • Industrials mixed after the recent gains. Wesfarmers (WES) +1.36% threatening the all-time high, Woolworths (WOW) +1.33%, Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) +1.65% and Coca Cola (CCL) +2.17%. Infrastructure stocks slipped away with Sydney Airport (SYD) -0.59%, Qube Holdings (QUB) -1.53% and Qantas (QAN) -0.50%. Retailers were transfixed by moves on Myer (MYR) +2.52% with Harvey Norman (HVN) +0.68% and Webjet (WEB) +1.68%. Takeover targets eased with Fairfax (FXJ) -3.65%, Mantra Group (MTR) –2.65% and Ardent Leisure (ARD) -2.27%.
  • Healthcare standout CSL +0.93% with others slightly better including Healthscope (HSO) +1.79% and Ramsay Health Care (RHC) +0.78%.
  • In the cannabis space, we saw some profit taking in Auscann (AC8) -1.68%, MMJ Phylotech (MMJ) -4.67%, MGC Pharmaceuticals (MXC) -3.85%, Capital Mining (CMY) -9.09% and Queensland Bauxite (QBL) -4.35% both converts to the cannabis story.
  • IT and Telcos eased as Telstra (TLS) +0.22%, Aconex (ACX) -2.01% and Catapult Group (CAT) -5.11%. Nearmap (NEA) +3.00% continued the rally from the profit update
  • Speculative stock of the day: And so it continues Botanix (BOT) +17.24% on heavy volume as the company has received approval for a synthetic cannabis trial for its acne product.

CORPORATE NEWS

  • Bellamy’s Australia (BAL) -8.28% having more troubles in Little China after Bega sold its Derrimut plant to Mead Johnson who will no longer supply BAL. The company will now have to reapply for a registration in China once a new supplier is found. The lengthy process will take up to six months and will affect $16m or 14% of sales. Never rains but it pours.
  • Bank of Queensland (BOQ) +2.56% Interim cash earnings after tax fell 2% to $175m in the six months ended February 28, while net profit fell 6% to $175m. BOQ said that it will pay a fully franked interim dividend of 38c.
  • Thorn Group (TGA) -4.17% has confirmed that the company had now receieved a statement of claim for the proposed class action against the company.
  • West African Resources (WAF) +6.25% after announcing high grade results from M5 with 77m at 5.3g/t Au including 27m at 12.3g/t from 352m.

BOND CORNER

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ECONOMIC NEWS

  • Job vacancies have risen to the highest level since May 2011. Total job vacancies increased 1.8% to 185,600 seasonally adjusted in the December-February quarter, from 182,400 in the three months to November. Vacancies were 7.3% higher than in the same period of 2016, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed.

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  • Sydney’s population has officially reached 5m, according to figures released today by the ABS. Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing capital city. Its population grew by 2.4% in 2015-16. The fastest growing area in Australia in 2015-16 was ACT – South West, which grew by 38%.

ASIAN NEWS

  • Can’t resist this story from Bloomberg. The Chinese Donkey Exchange. Yes, it is real. It is one of 1000 trading venues around China up from 300 in 2011. Donkeys are a agricultural commodity in China and prices have risen 400% since the exchange opened. More than 370 million yuan’s worth of donkeys have changed hands on the exchange. The exchange has plans to start web- and app-based trading in April.

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EUROPE AND US

  • Brussels has killed off the GBP24bn LSE-Deutsche Boerse merger saying it would create a ‘de facto monopoly in the markets for clearing fixed income instruments”.

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  • Heathrow airport has committed to a GBP650m expansion despite Brexit fears in another vote of confidence for the UK. The airport is owned by a consortium of global investors which took the company private in 2006 after it being a listed company. The owners include Ferrovial S.A. (25%) and Qatar Investment Authority (20%).
  • And finally, if the Germans cannot get it right what hope is there for Sydney Airport (SYD) No wonder Kerrie Mather has pulled the pin. Berlin’s new international airport is five years late and costs have exploded to EUR5bn, double the original estimate.

And finally……

A guy goes into confession and says to the priest, “Father, I’m 80 years old, widower, with 11 grandchildren.

Last night I met two beautiful flight attendants. They took me home and I made love to both of them. Twice.”

The priest says, “Well, my son, when was the last time you were in confession?”

“Never Father, I’m Jewish.” “So then, why are you telling me?”

“I’m telling everybody!”

Clarence

XXXX

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NT Markets

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