Markets Live: Telco gains wiped by major banks
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Markets Live: Telco gains wiped by major banks

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That's it for the Markets Live blog for today.

Thank you for joining us and thank you for your comments.

We'll be back tomorrow morning, have a good evening.

A strong session from the telecommunications sector wasn't enough to lift the sharemarket to a fifth straight advance, as the banks traded turbulently on the back of Westpac's variable interest rate hike.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed flat at 6351.8, down less than half a point, despite briefly touching a level it has not reached since December 11, 2007, earlier in the session.

Most of the market movement on Thursday came courtesy of the major banks who rose and fell throughout the session. All four majors dipped inside the opening hour before recovering a midday, then dropping again during the afternoon.

Westpac shares closed 0.8 per cent lower at $28.65, Commonwealth Bank fell 1.5 per cent to $72.15, NAB went down 0.6per cent to $28.30 and ANZ closed at $29.39, down 0.1 per cent.

The telcos lifted today as Vodafone Hutchison Australia and TPG Telecom agreed to a $15 billion merger to create the nation's third largest telecommunications company, rivalling Telstra and Optus.

TPG Telecom shares rose 18.2 per cent to $9.31, Telstra shares closed 2.9 per cent higher at $3.23, and Speedcast International was able to lift from two days without gains, climbing 6.1 per cent to $4.21. The biggest winner from the deal was Hutchison Telecommunications, who own 50 per cent of Vodafone Hutchison Australia, who saw its shares rise 44 per cent to 18¢.

CSL was also among the market leaders, rising 1.3 per cent to $226.30. The company recently overtook Westpac to be now the third largest company on the ASX by market capitalisation, just behind Commonwealth Bank and BHP Billiton.

It was a softer session for materials stocks, who weighed the market with some modest losses. Newcrest Mining fell 1.8 per cent to $19.56 while Rio Tinto closed 0.7 per cent lower at $73.14.

Ramsay Health Care shares closed 6.3 per cent lower at $54.58 after the company announced a week outlook in its key Australian hospitals. The company, which has historically guided double-digit EPS growth, said it was now targeting EPS growth of 2 per cent for the next year, down from the 7 per cent it reported for the 2018 financial year.

Tollroad group Atlas Arteria announced a $15.5 million interim net loss on Thursday, blaming the result on the cost of separating from parent Macquarie. Its shares closed 6.1 per cent lower at $6.62.

Perpetual is poised to make the most of the confronting revelations coming out of the banking royal commission and take advantage of a shift away from the bank-owned wealth managers.

The diversified financial services company has the firepower to acquire businesses and consumers as the inquiry rolls towards its conclusion and recommendations, due on February 1, according to interim CEO Chris Green.

"There are going to be opportunities to come out of that," said Mr Green, who is leading the company until incoming chief executive Rob Adam's arrival on September 24. "We don't speculate on what the royal commission's findings might be but we certainly see an opportunity for Perpetual given the strength of our brand."

Perpetual's upbeat assessment of the shake-out from the royal commission came off the back of a slight uptick in net profit of 2 per cent to $140 million in an environment that has proved challenging for household names in financial services. Perpetual rose $1.07 or 2.4 per cent to $45.52 on Thursday.

James Frost has the full story here.

Perpetual is in a good position to seize any opportunities in the fallout from the banking royal commission.

Perpetual is in a good position to seize any opportunities in the fallout from the banking royal commission.

Photo: Photographic

Lithium exporter Galaxy Resources says it does not fear the supply surge that will come within weeks from two new Australian lithium mines, and says it received higher prices for its product over the past six months despite falls in some high-profile price indexes over the same period.

Lithium stocks like Galaxy, which exports a lithium-rich spodumene concentrate from Australia's south coast, have been battered over the past eight months amid concerns about large amounts of new supply hitting the market and in response to a 30 per cent fall in the Chinese spot price for lithium carbonate with 99.5 per cent purity.

The theme was revived this week when one of the world's biggest lithium producers, Chile's SQM, predicted that its received prices in the six months to December 31 would fall by a maximum of 10 per cent compared to the first half because of new supply from Australian miners such as Pilbara Minerals and Altura Mining, who are scheduled to begin exports within weeks.

Peter Ker has the full story here.

Galaxy wants to complement its hard rock lithium operations in Australia with a brines operation in South America.

Galaxy wants to complement its hard rock lithium operations in Australia with a brines operation in South America.

Photo: Bloomberg
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The Maggie Beer Products gourmet foods business remains immersed in red ink but a restructuring program has prompted a glimmer of optimism from 48 per cent owner Longtable Group that the maker of ice-creams, pate, quince pastes and sauces can eventually make a profit.

Longtable, which also owns the Paris Creek premium dairy business, revealed on Thursday that Maggie Beer Products had suffered a bottomline loss of $1.23 million for 2017-18. This compared with a loss of $2.13 million in the previous financial year.

The Maggie Beer Products business was built over decades by Maggie Beer, who has a national profile through a string of cookbooks, television shows and as a frequent guest judge of Network Ten's MasterChef series.

Simon Evans has the full story here.

Celebrity chef Maggie Beer

Celebrity chef Maggie Beer

Photo: Dragan

Tollroad group Altas Arteria has delivered a $15.5 million interim net loss due to the cost of separating from parent Macquarie as it paid out more than $100 million in final performance fees.

The company changed its name to Atlas Arteria from Macquarie Atlas Roads in May after striking an agreement with the Macquarie Group to bring management in-house.

Atlas Arteria will pay Macquarie $115.3 million in final performance fees for 2016, 2017 and 2018 and has also incurred $5.4 million in costs related to arranging the split.

The costs of running Macquarie Atlas, which has tollroad investments in the US, France and Germany, after internalisation are estimated at $15 million to $20 million a year - far less than the cost of being managed externally by Macquarie.

Jenny Wiggins has the full story here.

Atlas Arteria's APRR tollroad in France benefited from rail strikes because more people took the roads.

Atlas Arteria's APRR tollroad in France benefited from rail strikes because more people took the roads.

Photo: APRR

Ramsay Health Care has painted a weak outlook in its key Australian hospitals where fewer women are having babies and consumers continue to drop private health cover and grapple with higher out of pocket costs, while operations in the UK and France will be flat this year.

Chief executive Craig McNally said this year he expects underlying earnings growth to be subdued driven by a combination of challenging circumstances in the UK, a slower rate of growth in Australia, and a neutral outlook in France.

"Based on current operating conditions in each of our core markets and barring unforeseen circumstances, in FY19, Ramsay is targeting positive Core EPS growth of up to 2 per cent, adversely impacted by anticipated higher interest and tax in FY'19." he said.

"This corresponds to core EBITDA growth for the group of 4 per cent to 6 per cent."

Carrie LaFrenz has the full story here.

Ramsay Health Care CEO Craig McNally has painted a weaker outlook, stating this year he expects underlying earnings growth to be subdued.

Ramsay Health Care CEO Craig McNally has painted a weaker outlook, stating this year he expects underlying earnings growth to be subdued.

Photo: Janie Barrett

A surprise fall in corporate capital expenditure over the June quarter likely weighed on economic growth, economists say, even as firms upgraded their planned spending for 2018-19.

Spending on buildings and machinery unexpectedly dropped 2.5 per cent in the three months through June, after advancing an upwardly revised 1.2 per cent in the March quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. Economists had tipped a 0.6 per cent rise over the three months to June.

The "disappointing" quarterly figure was largely due to a 10 per cent fall in mining construction, reflecting falling expenditure on liquefied natural gas projects.

But the "non-mining sector came in surprisingly weak", BIS Oxford Economics head of macroeconomics Sarah Hunter said, pointing to a 1 per cent quarterly fall. This outcome "suggests that private sector investment could disappoint in the June quarter national accounts" due on Wednesday.

Patrick Commins has the full story here.

Capital expenditure unexpectedly fell in the three months through March, offset by a lift in businesses' expected spending in this financial year.

Capital expenditure unexpectedly fell in the three months through March, offset by a lift in businesses' expected spending in this financial year.

Photo: AAPIMAGE
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The goal of a non-stop flight from Sydney to London - half the way around the planet - took a leap forward as the world's top plane makers convinced Qantas Airways they can make the 20-hour route a reality.

A year after Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce publicly challenged Boeing and Airbus to design a plane capable of making a viable direct flight from Sydney to London or New York, he says the manufacturers have succeeded.

"We're now comfortable that we think we have vehicles that could do it," Joyce said in an interview in Qantas's central Sydney offices.

Project Sunrise, as Qantas calls it, involves configuring an aircraft so that it can fly about 300 passengers and their luggage further than any regular service so far, with fuel in hand for unexpected headwinds and emergencies.

Read the full story here.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says plane makers have succeeded in making a London to Sydney flight viable.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says plane makers have succeeded in making a London to Sydney flight viable.

Photo: Louie Douvis

The Australian sharemarket has been trading turbulently through the afternoon.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is up 10.6 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 6362.8.

CSL is leading the market with a 1.5 per cent advance while Telstra, Macquarie and Transurban are also lifting.

TPG Telecom is down 15.1 per cent while Sandfire Resources is down 7.6 per cent.

Commonwealth Bank is the market's biggest drag, wiping 2.3 points from the index. Westpac is also weighing.

Ramsay Health Care is down 6.3 per cent and Afterpay Touch is down 5.7 per cent.

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