Energy charges ahead, EML Payments jumps on takeover talks: ASX up 0.2% at noon

The Aussie sharemarket is climbing this morning despite a weak session on Wall Street. Across the sectors, energy is charging ahead while real estate and utilities are the only two sectors trading lower. 

The top performer is EML Payments (ASX:EML), trading 12.6 per cent higher at $3.00 amid takeover talks with private equity firm Bain Capital, according to the AFR. 

Energy stocks are on the move following a rebound in the oil price. Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) has risen 2.5 per cent to $1.60, Santos (ASX:STO) has added 1.8 per cent to $8.14 and Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is trading 1.3 per cent higher at $32.47. Cooper Energy (ASX:COE) is also up 3.7 per cent to $0.28 after being granted an exploration permit in the Gippsland Basin, offshore Victoria.

Major banks are mixed, with gains led by Westpac (ASX:WBC) up 0.5 per cent to $24.26 and ANZ (ASX:ANZ) up 0.3 per cent to $27.51. On the other hand, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is flat at $32.95 while Macquarie (ASX:MQG) is down 0.5 per cent to $202.03 and Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) is trading 0.3 per cent lower at $106.37.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is leading major miners, up 1.9 per cent to $120.35, with Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) up 0.4 per cent to $21.26, while BHP (ASX:BHP) is trading 0.2 per cent lower at $51.60.

Onto gold stocks, Northern Star (ASX:NST) is trading 1 per cent higher at $10.93, while Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is down 0.4 per cent to $27.75 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is trading 0.2 per cent lower at $4.49.

In terms of broker moves, Morgan Stanley lowered AdBri (ASX:ABC) to equal weight from overweight. Shares are trading 5.9 per cent lower at $2.84, and is the worst performer.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.2 per cent or 13.2 points higher at 7467.2.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 17 points.

Local economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the building activity data for the December quarter of last year. Total dwelling unit commencements fell 13.5 per cent to 50,200 dwellings, new private sector house commencements fell 10.3 per cent to 32,085 dwellings, new private sector other residential commencements fell 19.4 per cent to 17,070 dwellings, and the value of total building work done fell 1.6 per cent to $30.3 billion.

The Westpac and Melbourne Institute is scheduled to release their consumer confidence report for April.

What else to keep an eye on?

In terms of broker moves, Goldman Sachs has reinstated its coverage for Lynas (ASX:LYC) with a neutral rating with a price target of $9.50, while shares are trading 1 per cent lower at $9.59. Morningstar bumped Megaport’s (ASX:MP1) rating to a buy from a hold, with shares trading 1.5 per cent higher at $12.10. The analysts at Citi raised Webjet’s (ASX:WEB) rating to a buy with a price target of $6.50, with shares trading 3.2 per cent higher at $5.48.

Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU) is trading 1.6 per cent higher at $12.62 following their annual general meeting today. Keep in mind that the company reported net profit after tax for the full year coming in above analysts’ estimates underpinned by strong operating performance and increased demand offsetting supply side challenges. Iluka Resources also announced its plan to demerge its subsidiary Sierra Rutile, in order to focus its capital and attention on its core Australian assets as it heads into the rare earths sector.

Chorus (ASX:CNU) is trading 1.5 per cent higher at $6.74 amid news that fibre connections rose to 939,000, with fibre uptake across the completed ultra fast broadband footprint rising to 69 per cent from 67 per cent.

Scrap metals group Sims (ASX:SIM) is trading 0.2 per cent lower at $21.80 amid news to take early steps in trying to decarbonise the economy, according to the AFR.

Company news

Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) has officially purchased an additional 47.5 per cent stake in travel tech business, TP Connects. This comes after the company agreed to increase its equity interest from 22.5 per cent to 70 per cent last month. Flight Centre said the acquisition aims to shape the future of travel distribution by producing content from multiple sources. Shares are trading 2.6 per cent higher at $20.22.

PointsBet (ASX:PBH) has launched an online casino product in Pennsylvania following approval from the state’s gaming control board. The move follows the launch of PointsBet’s mobile app and digital sports betting product in the state on February 8. It said Pennsylvania marks the 5th North American state where the company offers its iGaming platform. Shares are 2 per cent higher at $3.12.

Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) notes that the global search for a new chief financial officer (CFO) is underway following the resignation of Julie Cameron-Doe in December last year. Ms Cameron-Doe’s last day is on Friday, while Aristocrat’s deputy CFO Sally Denby, will support the chief executive officer (CEO) from Friday until a new CFO commences. Shares are trading 0.1 pr cent lower at $32.77.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is energy, up 1.7 per cent. The worst-performing sector is real estate investment trusts, down 0.3 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is EML Payments (ASX:EML), trading 12.6 per cent higher at $3.00. It is followed by shares in Imugene (ASX:IMU) and Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Adbri (ASX:ABC), trading 5.9 per cent lower at $2.84. It is followed by shares in Perpetual (ASX:PPT) and James Hardie Industries (ASX:JHX).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1969.30 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.8 per cent higher at US$154.85 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.6 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.64 US cents.