The mid-point of the week brought with it a weak start to trade for local shares. The ASX 200 started with a gain of 12 points, although the time spent in positive territory was fleeting. Shortly after the open the market was trading in the red, before moving lower over the course of the morning to be down 26 points at the worst levels of the morning. A bid tone emerged in the wake of a softer read for domestic inflation in the second quarter that saw the index recover of session lows. The initial weaker tone came despite gains for the broader US equity markets overnight. The Dow Jones index rose by 197 points or 0.8%, the S&P 500 index rose by 0.5%, but the Nasdaq index fell by just 1 point or flat.
Materials and Energy were the only 2 sectors to advance over the course of the morning. Declines were led by Consumer Staple and Healthcare, while bank losses consolidated the weaker tone. Turnover to lunch saw 1.3 billion shares traded worth $1.6 billion. 548 stocks rose, 430 fell and 329 were unchanged.
Materials were the most improved sector by a solid margin over the morning, with the sector gaining more than 1%. The gains were driven by the Chinese Administration announcing initiatives in the last day aimed at supporting the Chinese economy. China’s State Council has committed to a “a combination of fiscal and financial measures in an effort to boost domestic demand and bolster support for the real economy’. As a result metal prices rebounded on the London Metal Exchange (LME) overnight. Copper in particular advanced on supply concerns due to a possible labour strike at BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine in Chile. Fortescue Metal Group (FMG) shares were lately at $4.60 up 6 cents or 1.3%, South 32 shares (S32) were at $3.63 for a gain of 6 cents or 1.8%
CSR (CSR) shares were up 2.7% or 11 cents higher at $4.22 after confirming it is reviewing strategic alternatives in relation to its Viridian glass business, including potential sale options, having received interest from external parties. In-line with recent updates, CSR said Viridian’s performance in Australia and New Zealand is improving and the business remains on track to increase earnings this year.
Wattle Health (WHA) advanced by 9% or 9 cents to $1.14 after the dairy company secured regulatory approval to sell milk powder in China. WHA has received approval for general trade of its 1kg retail bag of Pure Australian Grass Fed Milk Powder. The group said the approval will assist in sales of WHA’s infant formula range in China, once WHA obtains State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR, formerly known as CFDA) accreditation.
The Aussie dollar was firmer against the US Dollar overnight, rising from lows near US73.61 cents to highs near US74.50 cents just prior to the release of second quarter consumer inflation data at 11:30 AEST. The ABS said that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4% in the quarter, which was below market expectations for a rise of 0.5%. In annualised terms the CPI rose 2.1% against consensus expectations for a 2.2% increase. The softer reading on inflation saw the local currency fall from around US74.40 cents to US74.15 cents a short time ago.
Published by CommSec