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Closing Bell 15 February

Grady Wulff
February 15, 2023

The ASX fell 1.06% today following the release of stronger-than-expected CPI data out in the US overnight which sent shockwaves through investor confidence, renewing fears of the Fed continuing its aggressive rate hike stance. Investors sold out of financial stocks today amid fears of increasing doubtful debts on bank balance sheets resulting from further rate hikes anticipated. Reporting season also continued today with a number of big names releasing results.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) reported first half results today that included 10% growth in NPAT, an interim dividend of $2.10/share, Net Interest Margin up 18-basis points to 2.10% and operating performance up 18%. Investors sharply sold out of CBA shares today though after the bank increased its loan impairment expense by 77.1% which management blamed on current macro conditions including rising interest rates and prolonged inflationary pressures.

Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) also released first half results today including revenue jumping 27% on the PCP to $22.558bn, 114% increase in Kmart EBIT, overall NPAT up 14% to $1.4bn, and the company declared an 88 cents per share dividend. Wesfarmers’ Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers revenue jumped 30.2% to $1.4bn, but the company’s Catch business softened to report a $108m loss. Overall, investors were impressed with the results, sending the Wesfarmers share price up 1.8% today.

The winning stocks from today’s session were led by Star Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR) rallying 14.40%, while G.U.D Holdings (ASX:GUD) added 8.10% and Cochlear (ASX:COH) rose 7.75% on the back of first half results. And on the losing end Brainchip Holdings (ASX:BRN) fell 13.56%, Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) lost 8.7% and Treasury Wine Estates (ASX:TWE) dropped 6.91%.

The most traded stocks by Bell Direct clients today were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Melbana Energy (ASX:MAY).

On the commodities front today, the price of oil took a dive today to just below US$79/barrel after an industry report showed US crude inventories rose by 10.5m barrels last week, well above the expected 321,000 barrel rise. Gold is trading down 0.43% at US$1846/ounce and iron ore is up 1.22% at US$124.50/tonne.

The Aussie dollar is buying US$0.69, 92.23 Japanese Yen, 57.34 British Pence, and NZ$1.10.

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