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All Ordinaries (ASX:XAO) flat as oil surges: Retailers slide on weaker sales

Both Australian benchmarks, including the S&P/ASX200 (INDEXASX: XJO) fell by 0.1% on Thursday ahead of the Victorian Grand Final public holiday.

Consumer stocks were the biggest detractors as weaker than expected retail sales combined with a number of profit results that were underwhelming and reflected the challenges facing the sector and the economy.

Eight of the markets 11 sectors finished weaker, after retail sales grew at just 0.2 per cent in August, following an 0.5% increase in July. This is likely to ensure interest rates remain on hold. Consumer facing businesses Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL) and Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) fell 1.9% and 0.8%.

Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL)

On the positive, in some ways, was news that the oil price had moved above US$94 per barrel as stockpiles in the US fell, with the sector gaining 3% on the news.

Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV) & Atlas Arteria Group (ASX: ALX) surprises

Related companies Brickworks Limited (ASX: BKW) and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd (ASX: SOL) both fell by more than 6% after a worse than expected earnings result.

The former posted a 54% drop in net profit to $395 million, on the back of a slowing in revenue growth to 8%. Similarly, Soul Patts, which maintains investments in New Hope Corporation Ltd (ASX: NHC) and BKW reported a 9% drop in profit to $759 million, noting it had reduced equity investments by as much as $1 billion during the year.

Retailer Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV) fell 0.5% after the Smiggle owner reported a 4.9% fall in net profit to $271 million, despite a 10% increase in revenue with management warning a more difficult environment had finally arrived.

Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV)

Finally, toll road Atlas Arteria Group (ASX: ALX) dropped 2.3% after news that it’s French toll road was facing another tax, that management confirmed they would challenge.

US markets rally to best day in September

All three US benchmarks rallied to their best day in several weeks on Thursday, led by the Nasdaq Inc (NASDAQ: NDAQ) which finished 0.8% higher.

Fitness gear provider Peloton Interactive Inc (NASDAQ: PTON) gained more than 5% after the company announced a partnership with apparel group Lululemon Athletica Inc (NASDAQ: LULU).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX: .DJI) and S&P500 (INDEXSP: .INX) gained 0.4% and 0.6%, respectively, as the US economy confirmed that it had grown at a rate of 2.1% in the June quarter. Predictions remain for 4% growth in the September quarter.

Shares in chip provider Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ: MU) fell by more than 4% after the company suggested negative margins, or losses were set to continue in the short-term.

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Wattle Partners is a financial advice firm, servicing clients around Australia, specialising in retirement planning (pre and post retirement). 

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