The Australian share market has started the week on a lull, despite several large retailers announcing sales growth off the back of the pandemic.
The ASX 200 progressively traded down on Monday and closed 0.8 per cent lower at 6,663.
The All Ordinaries also closed down 0.7 per cent.
Australian healthcare company Pro Medicus was Monday’s top performer as it continued to rise off news of a US contract.
Shares in the company, which does imaging for radiology and other health services, rose to a 10-month high last week after it announced the deal with the largest health system in Utah.
It closed on Monday 11 per cent higher.
Electronics and music chain JB Hi-Fi also performed well (+3.8pc) after announcing good sales growth during the pandemic.
Preliminary half-year online sales were up 162 per cent to $679 million.
Net profit after tax was $318 million versus $171 million for the same period the year before.
Other top performers include rival online retailers Kogan, which closed up 3.1 per cent, and Harvey Norman, which ended the day 3.7 per cent higher.
Energy stocks lost the most ground on Monday, including Mineral Resources (-3.3pc), gold miner Gold Road (-3.3p), and BHP (-2.9pc)
That followed oil prices falling sharply on the weekend.
Super Retail Group (SUL), the owner of Rebel Sports, Boating Camping & Fishing (BCF), and Supercheap Auto, is handing back $1.7 million in wage subsidies to the Federal Government.
The ASX-listed retailer announced the decision in a trade update on Monday morning where it boasted sales growth of 23 per cent for the past six months of 2020.
It told the ABC it was handing back the JobKeeper payments voluntarily due to its better-than-expected results.
The JobKeeper payments had only been for staff hired at the group’s Macpac chain, which includes 72 bricks-and-mortar stores.
Staff will instead be paid out of the company’s coffers.
SRG’s sales were boosted by online sales, which soared 87 per cent to $237 million during the pandemic.
But this rise was coming off a low base, with online sales still making up just 13 per cent of overall sales.
One of the company’s biggest boosts was to online sales at BCF, as Australians with no choice but to travel at home flocked to buy camping and outdoors gear.
SRG’s formal half-yearly results are released on 17 February.
Its shares were trading several points up on this news on Monday and at one point reached a three-month high.
But it ended the day one per cent lower.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Premier Investments will leave the job by 2022.
Mark McInnes, who has been leading the owner of Just Jeans, Smiggle and Peter Alexander for the past decade, has had to give Premier a year’s notice before quitting.
Retail mogul Solomon Lew, who chairs Premier, has thanked Mr McInnes for his time in the role.
“We have thrived in very challenging times while many of our competitors have struggled or failed,” Mr Lew said.
“After a decade in the CEO role, I understand and fully support Mark’s decision to leave for personal reasons.”
Just last week, Premier flagged a rise in its first-half earnings.
Premier ended Monday down 2.3 per cent.
Asian share markets pared back early losses on Monday as data confirmed China’s economy had bounced back last quarter following a jump in factory output.
Chinese blue chips edged up 0.4 per cent after the economy was reported to have grown 6.5 per cent in the fourth quarter, on a year earlier, topping forecasts of 6.1 per cent.
Capital Economics’ Senior China Economist, Julian Evans-Pritchard, said GDP figures “often need to be taken with a grain of salt”.
“But our in-house measure, the China Activity Proxy (CAP), also points to a marked pick-up in growth last quarter, despite showing a deeper downturn earlier in the year,” he said.
“Our initial estimate, based on full data for October and November and partial data for December, is that the economy grew 7.4 per cent year on year in Q4, up from 4.9 per cent in Q3.
“The monthly data suggests that growth dropped back slightly heading into 2021 but it remains strong.
“We think this strength will persist during the first half of this year, before giving way to a weaker second half.”
China is Australia’s biggest trading partner. Its dependence on iron ore from Australia helps boost our economy.
The Australian dollar was unmoved by the latest China data. It was still down 0.2 per cent to 76.9 US cents.