Aussie shares are off to a subdued start to August with the ASX 200 modestly lower in early trade and ahead of the upcoming earnings season. Heading towards lunch the main index is 15 points or 0.22% softer at 6261 points.
There was a mixed lead from Wall Street with the techheavy Nasdaq boosted by strong lifts in Apple shares. Continued talks that US President Trump is looking at lifting its tariff rates, from 10% to 25%, on a potential $200 billion worth of Chinese imports is also weighing on investor sentiment.
The main weight on the market is coming from weakness in materials, with the sub-index down over 1% towards lunch. BHP Billiton (BHP) is the biggest individual contributor to losses with the world’s largest mining falling 1.8% after sliding 3% on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) overnight on softer base metal prices. Telcos are also a weight with Telstra sliding 1%.
Rio Tinto (RIO) is also firmly in the red after releasing its HY18 results at the close of trade yesterday. RIO lifted its Net Profit by 33% year on year to US$4.38 billion with underlying earnings of US$4.42 billion, a rise of 12%. The figures were slightly below market expectations and higher costs also weighed on the result. RIO did lift its interim dividend by 15% to US$1.27/share. Rio shares are down 3.6%.
Minimising losses are gains in financials with Westpac (WBC) the standout, rising 0.5% while National Bank (NAB) is 0.3% lower. Meanwhile Wesfarmers (WES) is up 0.2% and Treasury Wine (TWE) is improving 1.3%. Funeral home operator, InvoCare (IVC) has announced the acquisition of two further funeral operators giving a boost to its share price by 1.5%.
On the economic front, the US Fed Reserve held rates at 1.5-1.75% overnight with the expectation of two further rates still anticipated in 2018. Australia’s trade surplus for June beat estimates of a $900 million surplus, with a surplus of $1.87 billion. Over the month, exports lifted by 3% while imports were a touch weaker by 1%. The Aussie dollar has remained mostly unchanged at 74 US cents.
So far today, 1.4 billion units have been traded worth $2.4 billion with 472 stocks trading higher, 478 lower and 369 unchanged.
Published by James Tao – Analyst (Author) CommSec