Aussie shares have followed Wall St lower with the ASX 200 10 points or 0.2% lower towards lunch. Overnight, the US tax bill was passed through both houses of congress and just requires to be signed off by President Trump to be enacted.
Back home, losses in financials and health care stocks have weighed on the market but has been partially offset by gains among energy and mining stocks. The big four banks are all lower with Westpac (WBC) the main weight. While BHP and Bluescope Steel (BSL) have helped lift the mining sector. BSL has lifted 5.5% after upping its profit guidance for 1H18. The steelmaker is expecting earnings before interest & taxes of $460 million, up from its previous guidance of $420 million. BSL’s US arm is also expected to lift earnings as the upcoming US tax reform is anticipated to cut the company’s tax rate by 7% in FY18.
Several other ASX-listed companies also announced that the upcoming US tax reform would have an effect on its bottom line. Ansell (ANN) expects profits to lift by $3-5 million per year from FY19, ANN shares are 0.8% lower. Computershare (CPU) shares are flat as it expect a onetime benefit in FY18 on the tax changes but also warned certain tax deductions will be reduced or removed.
Mineral Resources (MIN) has entered into an agreement with oil & gas producer AWE Ltd (AWE) to takeover AWE for $536 million or $0.83/share. MIN originally offered $0.80 earlier in the month but was rejected by the AWE board. MIN shares are 3% higher while AWE is 3% lower. Origin Energy (ORG) is up 2% after signing a new gas sales agreement with Cooper Energy (COE). ORG will purchase 100% of gas production from the Casino Henry gas field which is operated by COE from March 2018.
Retail Food Group (RFG) is rebounding from its recent run of losses with the owner of Gloria Jeans and Donut King lifting 25%. The food group has been rocked recently by media speculation of its business practices and a subsequent profit downgrade. RFG is still down 30% this week and more than 50% lower this month.
With little major domestic economic news leading up to Christmas, the Aussie dollar has held around US76.65c for most of the local session. So far, 1.6B units have traded hands worth $4B with 544 stocks higher, 517 lower and 383 unchanged.
Originally published by CommSec