ASX flat as miners power ahead


US shares ended Friday’s session on a relatively upbeat note, buoyed by a statement out of the US that the world’s top-two economies are edging closer to an agreement on phase one of a trade accord.

Miners close stronger

Commodity companies performed well in the Australian session on Monday, with BHP ending the day 1.1 per cent higher at $36.17, Fortescue Metals adding 2.2 per cent to $9.01 and Rio Tinto advancing 0.5 per cent to $91.25.

Lithium producers outperformed in percentage terms, with Pilbara Minerals rising 10.7 per cent to 31¢, Galaxy Resources up 6.6 per cent to 89¢, and Orocobre higher by 5.6 per cent to $2.44.

 

Viva Energy shares climbed 3.6 per cent to $2.04 after it said its Geelong refining margin fell to $US8.80 a barrel in the September quarter, from $US9.10 a barrel last year, due to higher crude premiums and planned maintenance in August.

Beach Energy advanced 2.1 per cent to $2.40 after it revealed that production weakened in the September quarter following the sale of its 40 per cent interest in the Victorian Otway assets.  The oil and gas producer also announced a new gas discovery at its 50 per cent-owned Beharra Springs site north of Perth.

Eclipx Group said it is anticipating a non-cash impairment charge between $95 million and $100 million after tax in its fiscal 2019 accounts ahead of a review into the carrying values associated with intangibles, non-core businesses and software. Shares were up 0.6 per cent at $1.73.

Rural Funds Group gained 2.3 per cent at $1.82 after announcing that its fiscal 2020 forecast distributions totalling 10.85 cents per unit are unchanged. The firm also said it will sell its poultry assets to ProTen Investment Management and acquire three cattle properties.

ResMed shares gained 2.2 per cent to $21.10 after Morgan Stanley upgraded the firm’s price target from $19.70 to $20.30.

JPMorgan raised its price target on AMP from $1.80 to $2.00 but held its ‘neutral’ rating on the company. “We don’t think earnings will bottom out until FY21,” the broker said.  Shares were down 1.4 per cent at $1.83.

 

Also on the downside. Sims Metal Management dropped 8.8 per cent to $9.20 after it said it is expecting to report an underlying first-half loss before interest and tax of about $20 million to $30 million. The first half will be hit by fallout from the scrap price crash, Sims said.

Waste manager Cleanaway shed 3.8 per cent to $1.78, extending losses from last week when it released an underwhelming update from management.

Manganese and silicon producer OM Holdings dropped 6.6 per cent to 43¢. Mining production at Bootu Creek manganese mine fell to 101,877 tonnes in the September quarter, down from 195,216 tonnes.

The company at its Sarawak smelting operation produced 64,775 tonnes of manganese alloy, compared to 62,750 tonnes in the June quarter, and 58,127 tonnes of ferrosilicon, compared to 57,901 tonnes in the June quarter.



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