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Local shares have opened weaker after a strong start to the week yesterday. The ASX 200 opened four points or 0.1% lower and has continued to trend lower towards lunch, with the main index down 21 points or 0.34% to 6341 points.
Materials, which was the biggest improver yesterday, is leading the losses today on sector terms. Major miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are both lower between 1%- 1.5%. Telcos are also in the red with a 1.4% slide in Telstra (TLS). Financials are mixed with three of the four major banks lifting. Only the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is weaker, giving up 0.5% ahead of reporting full year results on Wednesday.
Energy stocks are on the rise. Global oil prices rose overnight with the US expected to reimpose sanctions on Iranian exports. Iran is one of the world’s largest oil exporters. Santos (STO), Origin Energy (ORG) and Oil Search (OSH) are all improving by 1% or more.
In company news, Wesfarmers (WES) has sold its 40% stake in the Bengalla thermal coal JV to its partner, New Hope Corporation (NHC) for $860 million. NHC will now hold an 80% stake in the Bengalla operation, which is located in NSW’s Hunter region. WES shares are up 1.6% as it finalises an exit from its resources business, while NHC is 6.5% higher.
Packaging company, Amcor (AMC) is sliding 5% after confirming it will buy US competitor Bemis Co for US$6.8 billion in an all-stock transaction with AMC to own 71% of the new business.
The August reporting season is ramping up with several companies reporting results this morning. Transurban (TCL) shares are falling 0.8% despite the toll road operator doubling net profit to $485 million. Revenue has also lifted to $3.3 billion on an increase in average daily traffic. Education provider, Navitas (NVT) has recorded a loss of $55.8 million for FY18 on previously announced one off charges and a 2.5% dip in revenue. Despite this, shares in NVT are up 5%. SCA Property (SCP) is down 1% and IOOF Holdings (IFL) up 1% on FY18 results.
The RBA will mark two years of no change to the official cash rate if it holds rates at 1.5%, as it is highly anticipated to, at today’s meeting. The Aussie dollar is holding around 73.95 US cents. So far, 1.3 billion shares have traded worth $1.9 billion with 470 stocks higher, 550 lower and 364 unchanged.
Published by James Tao – Media & Capital Markets Analyst (Author) CommSec