ASX dithers in quiet trade as buyers emerge on a dip to 5841 to close up 8 points to close at 5873 with mixed performances across the board. Financials better but miners eased as REITs and healthcare held firm. Asian markets firmer with Japan up 0.26% and China up 0.56%. AUD eased to 76.05c and US Futures up 4 points.

STOCKS AND SECTORS

  • Miners pulled back again with BHP -0.17%, RIO -0.74% and Fortescue Metals (FMG) -0.48% Base metals stocks fared worse with Independence Group (IGO) -2.51% and Metals EX (MLX) -4.49%.
  • Gold shares were better on a rising bullion price with Newcrest (NCM) +1.75%, Evolution Mining (EVN) +1.43% and Perseus Mining (PRU) +3.23%.
  • Energy mixed as oils fell and coal rose on supply disruptions thanks to Debbie in Queensland. Santos (STO) -1.58% though Whitehaven Coal (WHC) +3.68% and New Hope (NHC) +0.00%.
  • In the industrials, consumer stocks slipped mainly as Coca Cola (CCL) -1.76%, Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) -0.65% and Costa Group (CGC) -1.61%. Winners though included A2Milk (A2M) +1.46%, Inghams Group (ING) +0.62% and Ridley Corp (RIC) +4.87%.
  • Healthcare a mixed bag as Healthscope (HSO) -3.96% fell on management change with Viralytics (VLA) +5.83% and Fisher and Paykel (FPH) +2.04%.
  • Telcos and IT stocks mainly weaker with the exception of Spark New Zealand (SPK) +3.46%. Telstra (TLS) +0.86% eked out a small gain with Nextdc (NXT) -3.68%, iSentia Group (ISD) -2.00%, Aconex (ACX) -2.29% and Bravura Solutions (BVS) -6.67%.
  • Financials once again proved resilient, the Big Bank Basket up to $187.02 whilst insurers and REITS both mixed. Suncorp (SUN) -1.74% and Insurance Australia (IAG) -1.16% and Scentre Group (SCG) +1.63% and Westfield (WFD) +0.90%.
  • Speculative stock of the day: Challenger Energy (CEL) +84.00% after a number oif South African news outlets suggested that the government would press ahead with Shale gas development and the focus on the Karoo formation in SA. Challenger has exploration rights in eth Basin and recently Shell and other multinational companies have registered interest in the area.

CORPORATE NEWS

  • Infigen (IFN) has announced a $151m one-for-4.6 non-renounceable entitlement offer. The deal was priced at an 11.4% discount to the last close and a 9.6% discount to the theoretical ex-rights price.
  • Spotless Group (SPO)-0.46% has announced it is exploring alternatives to the Downer (DOW) – 2.76% bid. The company is set to reject the DOW bid along with one of its largest shareholder Coltrane Asset Management which has 10.37% of the company.
  • Sirtex (SRX) +1.68% after announcing the SARAH study abstract had been embargoed ahead of the upcoming European Association for the Study of the Liver.
  • Healthscope (HSO) -3.96% announced the resignation of incumbent CEO Robert Cooke and the succession of Gordon Ballantyne as MD and CEO effective 15th

BOND CORNER

bonds 3

ECONOMIC NEWS

  • Average home values in Australia’s capital cities rose 12.9% in the 12 months through March, the fastest pace since May 2010, according to data from CoreLogic Inc.

heating up

  • Retail sales fell 0.1% in February, forecast of a 0.3% rise following January’s 0.4% growth. Furniture, floor covering, housewares and textiles sales fell 2.5% in February, while department store sales were up 0.8%.
  • Building approvals surged 8.3%, against forecasts of a 1% fall, coming after a 1.8% rise in January. Approvals for private sector houses rose 5.3% in the month, and the ‘other dwellings’ category, which includes apartment blocks and townhouses, was up 10.9%.
  • Total job advertisements rose 0.3% in March, from February when they dipped 0.8 %. Ads were 7.0 % higher than in March last year, according to ANZ.
  • The Australian Industry Group’s performance of manufacturing index (PMI) fell by 1.8 points to a still strong 57.5 in March, staying above the level of 50 points which indicates an expansion in activity.

ASIAN NEW

Japanese Economic News

Key Points

  • Sentiment among large manufacturers rose to 12 from 10 three months ago (forecast 14), according to the Tankan survey released by the BOJ. .
  • The outlook among the manufacturers increased to 11 from 8 in December (forecast 13).

japan inc

EUROPE AND US

  • Some analysts are forecasting the pound will stage a significant rally this year. Analysts at Barclays believe that sterling will rebound to $1.38 against the dollar within 12 months, and hit $1.32 by the end of this year. Nomura believes the pound is up to 25pc undervalued against the dollar, adjusted for price differences and buying power.

pound shorts.png

  • Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will meet at Mar-a-Lago in Florida on Thursday and Friday. Trump has a tee time booked apparently and an unconfirmed handicap of three. North Korea is sure to pop up in conversation, not least as Kim Jong-Il hit a 34 off the stick at Royal Pyongyang in 1994 including 5 holes in one. Not a bad round.

And finally…..

Two croupiers are sitting bored at the roulette of THE CASINO.

Suddenly a very attractive blonde woman enters and bets $20,000 on a roll, saying: “I hope you do not mind, but I feel very lucky when I play naked.”

With that, she unbuttons the zipper, takes her dress and underwear off, throw the dice and yells: “Come on baby, mama needs new clothes!” She looks with agony and as soon as the dice stops, starts jumping up and down screaming:

“YES, YES, YES I WON!” She embraces one to one of the dealers, taking her profits and clothes and disappears. The guys are looking dumbfounded at each other.

Eventually, one asks: “Did you see what dice she rolled?” “I do not know, I thought you were watching!”

Clarence

XXXXX

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NT Markets

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