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Local shares opened weaker on Tuesday with investors cautious ahead of a range of economic data releases domestically. The ASX200 was more than 30 points or 0.5% lower as weakness in the banks weighed on the broader market. However most of the losses have been recovered at lunch with the ASX 200 a touch lower at 5980 points, down six points or 0.1% at the time of writing.
The telecommunications and utilities sectors have made the biggest percentage gains. Telstra (TLS) is lifting the telcos higher with a second consecutive 2% gain so far. Utilities are being boosted by a 2.1% lift in Spark Infrastructure (SKI) and a 0.7% rise in AGL Energy (AGL).
The majority of financials are still trading lower with Macquarie Group (MQG) faring the worst, down 1%. National Australia Bank (NAB) is the best of the big four, trading 0.1% lower. Magellan Financial Group (MFG) has bucked the trend jumping 4.9% on several broker upgrades.
Diversified miner, South32 (S32) has enjoyed a robust morning lifting 5.7% at lunch on a positive business and strategy update. The company re-affirmed its prior FY18 production guidance while lowering its spending with capex down to US$470 million from $500 million.
Retail stocks had a volatile morning, having to contend with Amazon opening up its Australian site to sell a wider range of retail products and the release of October retail sales figures. The October data saw retail spending lift 0.5% for the month, which beat consensus expectations of 0.3%. Major retail brands have benefitted with Myer (MYR) rising 1.6%, Harvey Norman (HVN) gaining 1.9% while JB Hi-Fi (JBH) is 1% higher. Owner of IGA supermarkets and Mitre 10, Metcash Ltd (MTS) continues to strengthen, lifting another 4% following a 9% gain yesterday.
In other economic news, Australia’s balance of payments was in line with expectations with a $9.1 billion deficit for the third quarter. The Reserve Bank (RBA) will also release  its interest rate decision with most economists tipping rates to be on hold at current lows of 1.5%. The Aussie dollar spiked to US76.24c following the better than expected economic data.
2.6B units have been traded worth $1.8B. 463 stocks are higher, 584 lower and 380 unchanged.
Originally published by CommSec