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The Australian sharemarket has so far shrugged off any fears in relation to the escalating trade war between the US and China. Better than expected US employment figures countered negative sentiment on US markets, providing a positive lead to our market. Local shares were off to a stronger start with the ASX 200 lifting 0.2% on the open and hovering around those levels at lunch, trading 13 points or 0.2% higher at 6286 points.
Driving the gains locally are the financials and materials sectors. The big four lenders are all pushing higher with the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) the standout, climbing 1.1%. The remaining major banks are higher by 0.3-0.6%. BHP Billiton is boosting the materials sector, lifting 1.9%. It has been reported in several media outlets that BP is looking to offer more than US$10 billion to acquire BHP’s US onshore shale oil and gas assets. The offer hasn’t been confirmed by either company as yet.
Energy stocks have weakened with the ongoing situation over global oil supplies with expectations of higher supply from Russia and Saudi Arabia. Origin Energy (ORG) is 1.3% lower while Santos (STO) is down 0.2%. Caltex has fallen 2% after receiving several broker downgrades over recent sessions. Telcos are also weaker with Telstra (TLS) losing 0.9% after rebounding 6.9%last week from its recent lows.
It has been a quiet day for company news, media and entertainment business, Village Roadshow (VRL) is in a trading halt as it looks to raise funds to pay down debt. VRL recently sold its Wet’n’Wild Sydney theme park to a Spanish operator for $40 million.
On the economic front, the week kicks-off on Tuesday with the release of the National Australia Bank (NAB) business survey while housing and lending finance data feature prominently later in the week.
The Aussie dollar is continue to strengthen against the greenback as it buys 74.6 US cents despite the formalisation of US-China trade tariffs.
So far, 0.92B units have been traded worth $1.5B with 540 stocks higher, 422 lower and 344 unchanged.
Published by James Tao – Analyst (Author), CommSec