Early trade on Wednesday saw local shares continue the retreat that featured a day early. The ASX 200 opened the session with a loss of 7 points before trading to a 52 point loss at the worst levels of the morning. Thereafter buyers showed little inclination to make an impression on the market and the index was around session lows at lunch time.
Every ASX sector measured by the ASX was lower at lunch. Telecoms posted the largest decline in outright terms, while financials were the main weight on the index. At the same time Healthcare names were out of favour. The big four banks shed as much as 1% in the case of the NAB. Insurers were notably weaker with QBE and IAG each down by the same amount.
The most improved names in the ASX 200 at lunch were Orcobre (ORE) +2.9%, St Barbara (SBM) +2.8%, Galaxy Resources (GXY) +2.3%, Saracen Mineral (SAR) +2.3%. The worst decliners in the ASX 200 at lunch were Seven West Media (SWM) -4.7%, Bega Cheese (BGA) -3.6%, HT&E (HTE) -3.3%, ALS -2.8%.
Political developments in Washington cast a pall over regional markets in general on Wednesday. US sharemarkets fell overnight as investors reacted to President Trump’s decision to fire his Secretary of State, in turn making an impact on investor sentiment for growth assets such as stocks and commodities However, the balancing item came in the shape of a benign reading on inflation, indicating that the Federal Reserve can be measured with rate hikes in the near term. At the close of trade, the Dow Jones index fell by 172 points or 0.7%. The S&P 500 index fell by 0.6%. But the Nasdaq fell by 77 points or 1.0%.
Gold miners were generally firmer in response to the risk off atmosphere of the last 12 hours following the firing of the US Secretary of State Tillerson. St Barbara Limited (SBM) shares were 2.5% or 10 cents higher at $4.06, recovering from yesterday’s decline of 1.5%. The gold miner said it had contributed $4.4 million to capital raising at 10 cents per share for a 10% stake in ABM Resources (ABU). The cash raised by will fund an exploration programme at multiple high priority gold targets at the groups 100% owned Bluebush and Suplejack Projects in the Tanami desert. Elsewhere, Iron ore miners were mixed, in some cases recovering a portion of the ground lost recently in response to lower prices for ore and finished steel products in China. Iron Ore rose by US95 cents or 1.4% in the last day to US$69.95 a tonne. Fortescue Metal Group (FMG) shares were at 4.69 for a gain of 2 cents or 0.4%
The monthly measure of consumer sentiment surveyed by The Melbourne Institute and Westpac firmed by 0.2% to 103 points in March compared to February when index fell 2.3%. The impact was modest with the Aussie dollar already recovering from overnight weakness.
Major currencies in general were firmer against the US dollar in the last 12 hours. The Aussie dollar heled in a range between US78.55 cents and US79.00c and was near US78.60 cents in early regional trade.
Published by CommSec