The major miners and banks continue to bully the wider ASX200, with the market flat on Monday afternoon.
The benchmark index was last 0.1 per cent higher at 5968.2, but has been flittering either side of positive and negative throughout the session. Asian markets are mostly higher, with the exception of the Shanghai Composite.
US futures are up 0.4 per cent and point to gains on Wall Street tonight. The major US indices had a decent session on Friday.
Locally, tech and health stocks continue to impress.
Afterpay is up 5.4 per cent at $80.70, EML Payments has risen 8.2 per cent to $2.92, and Nearmap is 5.4 per cent higher at $2.35. Megaport rose 2.6 per cent, Xero 1.5 per cent, Bravura 3.9 per cent and Altium and Appen 1.1 per cent each.
CSL has fallen flat but ResMed and Fisher and Paykel are each ahead 1 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively. Sonic Health is up 1.1 per cent, and stem cell firm Mesoblast is 10.6 per cent higher at $5.43 ahead of a US Food and Drug Administration call on its flagship product this week.
Iron ore giants BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are all down, while gold miner Newcrest has climbed.
Westpac leads losses for the big banks, down 1 per cent to $17.40, while Transurban and Telstra are also among the big-cap losers on Monday. a2 Milk shares are down 10.3 per cent and hit a six-month low of $15.34 on a first-half revenue warning.
Mesoblast shares have bounced more than 10 per cent for the session so far as the stem cell treatment maker stares down another big week.
The US Food and Drug Administration will make a call by September 30 (Thursday Australian time) on whether it will grant approval to the stem cell treatment maker for its flagship product, remestemcel-L, for use against graft-versus-host disease in children.
Mesoblast shares closed at $4.91 on Friday but were sitting at $5.41 at 1.45pm AEST.
The company’s share price tends to go on a bit of a rollercoaster in the days before regulatory news is expected.
In the week before an FDA committee held its first meeting about this treatment earlier this year, shares rallied and then suddenly fell more than 30 per cent in a single day after some of the regulator’s briefing documents suggested they were going to put Mesoblast under significant scrutiny.
This week’s final FDA decision comes after more than a decade of trying to get remestemcel-L approved in the US market.
The product is the same one Mesoblast is also trialling for patients experiencing acute respiratory distress due to COVID-19. The company’s trials COVID are still underway.
Dreamworld’s parent company Ardent Leisure has been fined $3.6 million by a Queensland court over the deaths of four people on the theme park’s Thunder River Rapids Ride in October 2016.
Southport magistrate Pamela Dowse sentenced the company on three charges laid by Queensland’s Office of Industrial Relations at a hearing on Monday afternoon.
“The defendant operated the most iconic amusement park in the country,” she said. “Complete and blind trust was placed in the defendant by every guest that rode the Thunder River Rapids Ride and those guests were extremely vulnerable.”
Ardent Leisure pleaded guilty on Monday to three charges, with potential fines of up to $4.5 million, laid after a coroner found “unjustifiable” failings in Dreamworld’s safety management.
Sydney mother Cindy Low, along with Canberra mother Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi, were killed on October 25, 2016, when the theme park’s Thunder River Rapids Ride malfunctioned.
Dreamworld chief executive John Osborne outside court after the hearing said Ardent apologised unreservedly for the “past circumstances and failures” at the theme park that resulted in the deaths.
Shares in the company were last trading at 51 cents, a rise of 2 per cent for Monday’s session.
Revenue at the troubled theme park operator fell by $85 million, or about 17 per cent, to $398.3 million in FY20 after it was forced to temporarily close its Main Event centres in the US and its Australian attractions, which include Whitewater World and SkyPoint, in March.
The company’s full-year loss more than doubled to $136 million.
Markets software firm Iress has upped its bid for fintech OneVue Holdings with a “best and final offer” of 43 cents per share as it seeks to placate a major investor.
The latest move – which values OneVue at about $115 million – follows comments made by billionaire investor Alex Waislitz that Iress’ initial all-cash bid of 40 cents per share in June was too low.
Iress’ previous offer had been unanimously recommended by the OneVue Board and was towards the upper end of the independent expert’s valuation range. But Mr Waislitz, whose Thorney listed companies owns a stake in OneVue, was not satisfied.
“While overall feedback from OneVue shareholders has been very positive regarding the scheme, Iress has considered all shareholder feedback and decided to increase consideration to 43 cents per share to give the Scheme the greatest chance of success,” Iress said on Monday.
Shareholders will vote on the proposal on October 9.
The revised price is at the top of the independent expert’s valuation range of 36 cents to 43 cents per OneVue share and represents a 79 per cent premium to the May 28 closing share price of 24 cents.
“If OneVue shareholders view the offer as attractive, we encourage them to vote in favour,” Iress said. “If the scheme is unsuccessful, the independent expert has indicated there is a risk that the OneVue share price will fall below our original offer.”
OneVue Directors continue to unanimously recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the scheme.
Shares in OneVue were up 7 per cent at 42 cents by 1.30pm on Monday, with trading volumes at 3.9 million, more than four times the 10-day daily average of 690,000.
Iress shares are 1.1 per cent higher at $9.63.
Australia’s coal miners are headed for a $17 billion collapse in export earnings this year as the shock of the coronavirus crisis persists and more Asian power utilities switch from coal to gas.
The projected declines across 2020-21, contained in a federal government report to be released on Monday, come after a succession of coal companies reported sharp full-year profit contractions including New Hope Corporation, which took a 69 per cent hit, and Whitehaven Coal which fell 95 per cent.
Swiss giant Glencore last week suspended operations at most of its coal mines in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales for at least a fortnight in a bid to curtail output in the face of falling demand.
Exports of metallurgical coal – the coal used in steelmaking – are projected to shrink 34 per cent from $35 billion to $23 billion as prices hover around four-year lows, according to the federal Industry Department, while thermal coal – used in power generation – is set to fall 25 per cent from $20 billion to $15 billion.
The latest Short Squeeze is here!
This week Alex Druce is joined by IG Markets Analyst Kyle Rodda to discuss potential changes to responsible lending laws, the October 6 RBA/Federal budget double-header, whether the latest US data points to jobs growth and the looming US Presidential debate.
You can find past episodes of the weekly podcast, which is produced in conjunction with IG, here. Each episode goes for about 10 minutes and is also available through Spotify and Google Podcasts.
Corporate Travel Management is in a trading halt pending a capital raising and acquisition announcement, as tipped by the Australian Financial Review last night.
Shares in the $1.8 billion travel firm were halted at Friday’s close of $16.16 ahead of what it said would be an underwritten pro-rata accelerated entitlement offer and purchase.
The AFR last night tipped the company was expected to announce a raising worth about $400 million and overseen by Morgan Stanley and Morgans.
Corporate Travel shares have been hit hard this year on account of pandemic-related travel bans, though the firm has not suffered as much as its sector rivals.
The company’s share price has dropped 21.2 per cent in 2020. WebJet shares are down 58 per cent for the year and Flight Centre 64 per cent.
The company’s full-year earnings in August beat market expectations, with the firm’s share price rising from $8.20 to about $17.60 in the six weeks to September 16.
It’s the type of corporate mystery that has become all too common for ASX-listed tech stocks — why is there so much hype around a company when its financial performance is so meagre.
Take Brainchip. The company that is promising to produce computer chips that mimic the workings of the human brain reported in August a $6.86 million loss on revenue of just $13,397 for the half-year ending June 30 — an 80 per cent drop on revenue generated in the prior first half.
The report also outlined circumstances which would cast uncertainty on its ability to continue as a going concern.
Two weeks later the market valued the group at more than $1.5 billion.
Losses for the heavyweight mining and financial sectors were keeping a lid on the ASX 200 on Monday.
The benchmark index fell by as much as 0.4 per cent at the open as BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and the Big Four banks all sagged. By 11.30am AEST the market had trimmed losses to 0.1 per cent, sitting at 5956.9 points.
Toll giant Transurban was 2.5 per cent lower at $14.65 and Telstra dropped 0.7 per cent to $2.84.
Offsetting the drop was biotech CSL, up 0.6 per cent, as well as ResMed and Fisher and Paykel, which were both 1.3 per cent ahead. Macquarie Group was 0.4 per cent higher.
Afterpay rose 3.6 per cent to $78.61 to lead tech stocks higher. The sector was the best early performer, following a strong week-ending performance by US mega-caps such as Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.
Altium gained 1.4 per cent, Appen 1.8 per cent, EML payments 6.3 per cent, Nearmap 4.9 per cent, and Megaport 3 per cent.
US futures were up 0.3 per cent at 11.30am AEST.
NSW has recorded a second consecutive day of zero cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced this morning.
Speaking at the site of a new emergency services training facility in western Sydney, the Premier again warned against complacency, noting the state only recorded “about 6400” tests during the reporting period.
“Yes, it’s the weekend and we expect a dip [in testing numbers], but can I please encourage everybody not to get complacent,” she said.
No new COVID-19 cases have been detected in Queensland but the state also fell far short of its daily testing goal.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 1800 tests had been conducted in the past 24 hour period.
Although case numbers are dropping across the country, there are still some places in Sydney and Melbourne which health authorities are keeping an eye on.
In NSW, people who were at Campbelltown Golf Club on September 16 between 2pm and 4.30pm must remain in self-isolation until this Wednesday.
Then, there are a number of locations across Sydney and the Blue Mountains, as well as across Melbourne, which health authorities have flagged as places people who were infectious with coronavirus attended before getting tested.