Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 3/20/14
By Steven Daghlian, CommSec Market Analyst | March 20, 2014 1:51 PM EST
The Australian sharemarket is losing ground for the second day this week and is trading at a one-month low. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down 0.9 per cent, with only the defensive utilities managing to rise modestly.
Last night, global markets lost ground partly due to signs that the U.S. central bank could raise rates sooner than expected. The DOW index fell by 0.7 per cent while the U.S. dollar shot higher. This in turn has pushed the Australian dollar lower from its three-month high reached yesterday.
Department store owner Myer (MYR) is down 5.3 per cent despite posting a better than forecast half year profit of $81 million. This was $11 million ahead of its takeover target David Jones's earnings of $70.1 million which it announced to the market yesterday. MYR's gross margin was weaker than expected while costs were lower. A slightly lower 9cps interim dividend was announced; 1cps lower than DJS's announced distribution yesterday. Looking ahead, due to costs being pushed to 2H14, the outlook for FY14 profit was weaker than hoped for.
Yesterday, David Jones issued its numbers with half year profit coming in at $70.1 million. Total sales rose 3.8 per cent. Profit was hurt by discounting which pushed back margins. Online sales surged by 150 per cent in the second quarter and 220 per cent over the half. There's been a 74 per cent jump in traffic to the website over the half.
The major banks are all in the red, with the big four down by as much as 0.8 per cent. Taking a step back however; the financials have edged higher by just 0.25 per cent since the start of the year, just slightly ahead of the broader market.
The miners are slumping most, with gold miner Newcrest Mining (NCM) the worst performer; down 6.25 per cent. Despite the recent weakness in NCM's share price, keep in mind that NCM surged by 17.5 per cent in February and 23 per cent in January.
At lunch, 1.15 billion shares have changed hands, worth $4.32 billion. 287 stocks are higher, 475 are in the red and 309 are unchanged.
No major economic news is scheduled for release across the region, with the exception of a talk by the Bank of Japan's Governor Kuroda at 6.15pm (AEDT).
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