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Local shares are a touch weaker early on Friday with the ASX 200 easing by 8 points or 0.1% to 5920 approaching lunch. Our performance follows a mixed session from Wall Street following the US Fed’s decision to keep rates on hold in November but pointing to a likely hike in December.
The energy sector is among the steepest decliners on the back of another night of easing for crude oil. Crude prices have fallen ~20% from its October peaks on concerns of softer demand from slowing global growth and increased levels of supply. Beach Energy (BPT) is down 3.4% while Oil Search (OSH) and Woodside (WPL) have both lost around 0.8%. FAR Ltd (FAR) is slumping 37% after the oil and gas producer based in East and West Africa was unsuccessful drill at an oil well in Gambia.
Discretionary retail names are also softer with Corporate Travel Management (CTD) giving back around half of its 14% gain yesterday. CTD shares are down 7.4% while Flight Centre (FLT) and Dominos Pizza (DMP) are also losing more than 1.5%.
Financials and communication services are among the biggest improvers with the major banks higher despite financial regulator, APRA, looking to increase the amount of capital reserves held by the larger financial institutions. Westpac Bank (WBC) is leading the big four higher, up 0.3% while Macquarie Group is gaining 0.8%. REA Group (REA) is among the best performers in communications with the company lifting another 3.2% after rising 8% on its quarterly update yesterday.
Lendlease (LLC) is the biggest weight for the top 200 stocks as it slides 16.6% after announcing under performance at its Engineering & Services division, which includes work at Sydney’s NorthConnex motorway, will negatively impact its 1H19 post-tax result by $350m.
Lithium miners Altura Mining (AJM) and Argosy Minerals (AGY) are climbing by 28% and 7% respectively on updates. AJM has agreed to a long term offtake agreement with a Chinese battery maker while AGY has agreed to acquire three new tenements near its Rincon project.
The RBA has released its quarterly Statement of Monetary Policy and updated its forecasts on unemployment. Meanwhile home loans for September fell 1% in line with expectations. The Aussie dollar is buying 72.5 US cents.
So far, 0.7B units have traded worth $1.5B with 420 stocks higher, 430 weaker and 375 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec