The S&P / ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) closed flat today as investors tread water on the back of little news other than plans by BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) to pay out some US$10.2 billion to shareholders in the form of an off market share buy-back and fully franked special dividend.
That news helped lift BHP shares and some others. Let’s take a quick look at what may be behind some of today’s top movers.
Orocobre Limited (ASX: ORE) is a lithium miner that posted a strong quarterly production report that led investors to bid the shares 11.7% higher. For the quarter ending September 30 2018 Orocobre produced 2,293 tonnes of lithium at its Olaroz Argentinian tenement. In total it sold 2,144 tonnes at an average price of US$14,999 per tonne, compared to a cost per tonne of US$4,640. The group also announced plans to expand production at its Argentinian operations and it’s no surprise investors cheered this update.
The Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) share price climbed 2% to $78 today probably in sympathy with the rise in BHP Billiton shares after it revealed its sugar-hit plan to dish out more than US$10 billion to investors. Notably, Rio is in the middle of its own US$3.2 billion share buy-back in a move that is probably also supporting its share price.
The Challenger Group Ltd (ASX: CGF) share price closed up 3.9% to $10.66 today after the annuities manager updated the market with news that the government still intends to force superannuation trustees to have a “retirement income strategy” for all members by July 1 2020. In simple terms the government is going to help promote annuity products in the retirement phase of superannuation. This is good on paper for Challenger, although whether it translates into profit growth from 2020 and beyond is not certain.
The AMP Limited (ASX: SYR) share price stormed higher on rumours it may be a takeover target for Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG). Given the regulatory attention AMP is facing and expected transition to a new CEO at Macquarie Group soon, this looks a far-fetched story in The Australian newspaper. Macquarie Group hands in its interim profit report tomorrow morning.