The local sharemarket is softer on Friday with the cancellation of an upcoming summit between the US and North Korea putting a dent in shares globally. The ASX 200 is recovering from its earlier lows, trading 2 points lower at 6035 points and is pointing to a second consecutive weekly loss for the index after six straight weeks of gains.
The resource sectors are again the main weights on the local bourse. Among the miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) is leading the declines with a 1.8% loss. Gold miners are improving with the precious metal seen as a safe haven. Newcrest Mining (NCM) has risen 1% with OceanaGold (OCG) up 1.5%. Oil and energy producers are being weighed by falls in crude prices after Russia suggested that OPEC and non-OPEC producers would look to scale back output cuts to rebalance oil prices. Woodside (WPL) is down 2.4% while Beach Energy (BPT) has slipped 2.7%.
Telcos have been the biggest improving sector led by solid gains in Telstra (TLS) and Vocus Group (VOC). TLS has climbed 3.8% today but the stock is still down 20% over 2018. VOC is up 4.2%. NZ based telco, Spark NZ (SPK) isup 2% after announcing its program to improve efficiency will realise benefits earlier than expected. Consumer stocks are also limiting losses on the broader market with Aristocrat Leisure (ALL) lifting another 5% today following its 8% jump yesterday on a strong 1H18 result. The a2 Milk Company (A2M) and Treasury Wine (TWE) are also both rising 3% so far.
In company news, Wesfarmers (WES) has announced it is offloading its struggling hardware business in the UK & Ireland as it looks to offload the division, including the Homebase brand, to a UK firm associated with Hilco Capital, which specialises in refinancing and restructuring businesses. The transaction amount was not disclosed but WES expects to incur a loss in the range of £200 – £230 million ($325 million to $375 million) in FY18. Investors have embraced the sale with WES shares improving by 0.7%. Meanwhile, Cleanaway Waste (CWY) has completed its takeover of Tox Free Solutions (TOX). TOX will be officially removed from quotation on Monday 28 May 2018.
The Aussie dollar continues to hold onto gains in the US session overnight with the local currency trading at 75.7 US cents. So far, 1.5B units have traded worth $3.3B with 507 stocks higher, 460 weaker and 379 unchanged.
Published by James Tao (Author), CommSec