4 March 2024 | Weekly Snapshot

Did you know?

The S&P 500 is up 16 out of the past 18 weeks which has only happened once before in history, in 1971.

Market Movements

Australian Share Market (ASX 200) – up 1.33% to an all-time high. The Info Tech sector (+7.97%) up for 5 weeks in a row led the gains again followed by Consumer Staples (+2.59%) and REITs (+2.34%). Utilities (-1.04%), Health Care (-0.79%) and Communication Services (-0.54%) were the only sectors lower. The first half ASX reporting season wrapped up and was generally ok with 40% of ASX 200 firms beating estimates and 32% missing, in line with long-run averages. Revenue growth averaged 6% in the half and while revenues typically slowed, a greater focus on cost control helped drive more earnings beats than misses. There were some noticeably large moves during reporting season with 15% of stocks moving more than +/-10%, near an all-time high and nearly double the long-run average. Our monthly inflation indicator was unchanged at 3.4% for the year in January against expectations for an increase to 3.6%. Excluding volatile items and holiday travel, inflation eased to a still high 4.1% from 4.2%. Aussie retail sales rose 1.1% for the month in January, below the 1.5% rebound expected following December’s 2.1% plunge, with retail turnover virtually unchanged over recent months. On an annual basis retail sales also grew 1.1% which is well down on the 7.7% annual growth recorded this time last year. The slower retail sales trend fits with households feeling the pinch from rising cost of living and the higher interest rates. Equities got a boost as the inflation and retails sales data reinforced market views that the RBA cash rate has already peaked, with August currently seen as the most likely month for the first rate cut. CoreLogic’s National Home Value Index ring another 0.6% for the month in February, following January’s 0.4% gain and was the strongest increase since October’s +0.9%. Sydney property values rose 0.5% while Melbourne home prices rose 0.1%. Other capitals recorded much stronger increases with Perth home values surging 1.8% for the month. The housing market’s resilience despite the high interest rates is being attributed to an undersupply exacerbated by record migration levels with the still rising house prices likely complicating the outlook for rate cuts somewhat.


U.S. Share Market (S&P 500) – up 0.95%, with the Dow down 0.11%, and the Nasdaq up 1.40% at an all-time high for the first time since late 2021. The phenomenal rally continued with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both up for the seventh week in the past eight and the S&P 500 is up 16 out of the past 18 weeks which has only happened once before in history, in 1971. The Info Tech sector up 2.51% continues to lead the rally, although Real Estate up 2.11% did well, and Consumer Discretionary up 2.04% had a good week. Underperformers included Healthcare (-1.05%), Utilities (-0.63%), and Consumer Staples -(0.54%). While equities were strong again last week the economic data was largely weaker then expected, prompting some downgrades to expected Q1 GDP growth with estimates now around a still reasonable 2% growth, but down from the +3% growth expected just a week ago. And slowing from the 3.2% annualized rate in Q4. New home sales rose less than expected but could have been weather related with a notable drag in the weather impacted South. February consumer confidence index was well below consensus, breaking a 3-month steak of gains. January durable-goods orders tumbled 6.1% for the month, the biggest drop since April 2020, likely impacted by lower Boeing plane orders amid their latest safety incidents. The February ISM Manufacturing index unexpectedly fell and the 16th straight month under 50 (in contraction). And the final University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was unexpectedly revised lower, reversing much of the January jump that was highest since July 2021. Although the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index rose 5.5% for the year in December, up from a 5.0% annual rise in November. The January PCE Inflation report was a highlight with Core PCE (the Fed’s preferred inflation measure) up 0.4% for the month, the highest in 12 months. Annualized core of 2.8% was down 0.1%, and now back to early 2021 levels and all largely in line with expectations although super core services (excluding energy and housing) was the highest since March 2022. Rate-cut odds were little changed following the report with a June Fed rate cut currently a 50% chance.

Portfolio Movements

Charter Hall (CHC) reported a better than expected first half last week with Operating EPS of $0.41, ahead of the $0.38 expected. Although 1H Revenue of $311.4M was down 34%, and Operating earnings $195.1M were down 19% on the year ago period. The full year guidance included post-tax Operating EPS of 75 cents and distribution guidance for +6% growth over FY23 was well received. CEO David Harrison said: “We’ve continued the ongoing curation of the portfolio’s we manage, developing new assets and modernising prime located assets that meet the needs of today’s tenants while selectively divesting older, non-core assets which enhances returns”.


Ramsay Healthcare (RHC), the country’s largest private hospital owner/operator, reported a decent first half result last week with first half NPAT from continuing operations of $140.4M ahead of the $129.8M estimate. Total first half revenue of $8.16B up 11% was also ahead of the $7.89B estimate. The sale of their Asia-focused joint venture with Malaysia’s Sime Darby during the half for a $618.1 million profit has complicated the result, but reduced gearing that had become an issue at the prior full year results. CEO Craig McNally “I am pleased to report that activity levels continued to improve across all regions through the first half of FY24. This, combined with tariff uplift, drove patient revenue growth of 7.8% in constant currency. Ramsay expects FY24 earnings to reflect: Mid-single digit top line growth driven by low to mid-single digit growth in activity and higher reimbursement levels. Although margin recovery will be slowed by ongoing inflationary pressures.


Woodside (WDS) reported a solid full year result last week despite a 37% drop in annual underlying profit as lower oil and gas prices offset higher sales and production. With underlying NPAT of US$3.32B a decent beat on the $3.14B expected. Record full year production of 187.2 million barrels of oil equivalent (513 thousand per day) and excellent operated LNG reliability of 98%. A final dividend of US 60 cents per share was declared, higher than the 40 cents per share expected. “Our debt-free merger with BHP Petroleum added cash generating assets and strengthened Woodside’s balance sheet, giving us capacity for future capital investments as well as ongoing returns. Gearing at year-end was 12.1%. said CEO Meg O’Neill. Adding “In 2024, we are looking forward to celebrating 40 years of safe, reliable domestic gas supply to Western Australia and 35 years of LNG supply to customers overseas” “We are focused on delivering first oil from Sangomar and progressing the Scarborough Energy Project and Trion development.”

The Week Ahead

Domestic economic data releases this week include Building Approvals, and Q4 Business Inventories and Company Gross Profits today. Vehicle Sales and Q4 Current Account and Foreign Direct Investment are tomorrow. The highlight of the week is our Q4 GDP data on Wednesday with 1.5% annual growth is currently expected. Housing Finance is Friday.

International economic data releases include Eurozone Sentix Economic Index tonight and Japan Tokyo CPI and China Caixin Services PMI tomorrow. Eurozone PPI is tomorrow night along with US Factory Orders and ISM Services PMI. Eurozone Retail Sales are Wednesday night along with US JOLTS Job Openings. German Manufacturing Orders are Thursday night along with the ECB interest rate decision and US Consumer Credit. China Loan Growth is Friday with German Industrial Production on Friday night along with US Non-Farm Payrolls which is the highlight of the week with another 200k jobs gain expected.

There is no Portfolio company reporting this week although several companies go ex dividend following the recent reporting seasons.

Saward Dawson Wealth Advisors Pty Ltd, a Corporate Authorised Representative of Akambo Pty Ltd t/a Accountants Private Advice

The information presented in this publication is general information only, and is not intended to be financial product advice. It has not been prepared taking into account your investment objectives, financial situation or needs, and should not be used as the basis for making an investment decision. Before making any investment decision you need to consider (with your financial adviser) your particular investment needs, objectives and financial circumstances.

Some numerical figures in this publication have been subject to rounding adjustments. Akambo Pty Ltd (including any of its directors, officers or employees) will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of any reliance on this information. The market commentary reflect Akambo Pty Ltd’s views and beliefs at the time of preparation, which are subject to change without notice.