Aussie shares are under some pressure on Monday, easily wiping out last week’s modest improvements with most sectors in negative territory. The ASX 200 is down 0.9 per cent with almost all sectors losing ground. While local stocks remain near 10.5 year highs, trade tensions between the US and China are keeping markets on edge. On Friday, President Trump said he is ready to impose tariffs on all goods being imported from China by the US (more than US$500bn in Chinese products).
Energy stocks are a touch firmer thanks to a 1.5 per cent lift in oil prices. Woodside (WPL), Santos (STO) and Oil Search (OSH) are up as much as 1.5 per cent.
With investors a little cautious, the price of gold edged higher and has helped push producers of the precious metal higher. Evolution (EVN), Northern Star (NST), St Barbara (SBM) and Regis (RRL) are all improving.
Wesfarmers (WES) said it expects the Coles demerger to be completed by November 2018 subject to shareholder approval. WES will retain a 15 per cent stake in the supermarket chain and 50 per cent of Flybuys.
Crop chemicals business, Nufarm (NUF) is down 8 per cent after significantly cutting its profit expectations due to dry weather conditions. Its business operations in Australia and New Zealand are only expected to generate $5-$10m in FY18 compared to $51.6m last year.
BHP Billiton (BHP) is down 1 per cent and has been served with a class action over the 2015 dam collapse in Brazil. The miner said it ‘intends to defend the claim’.
Mayne Pharma (MYX) is up almost 5 per cent after the drug company acquired a skin cream which treats some skin cancers for US$20m.
A Transurban (TCL) led consortium has made a bid to buy a 51 per cent stake in the WestConnex Motorway assets in Sydney. Today marks the last day offers can be made and the NSW Government will now take some time to evaluate the bids which need to get past the ACCC and the Foreign Investment Review Board.
While there is no market moving data due in Australia today, updates on consumer and business inflation on Wednesday and Friday will receive most attention from economists. The market (Bloomberg pricing) is still expecting the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates on hold for the rest of the year.
1.2bn shares have changed hands so far worth $1.8bn. 451 stocks are up, 573 down and 383 are flat.
Published by CommSec