Losses are moving into a third straight session for local shares with the ASX 200 following the lead of Wall Street into the red. At lunch, the index is down 42 points or 0.74% to 5651.8. The major US indices fell overnight on trade tensions fears and a sell down of heavy weight tech stocks led by Apple.
Local tech stocks are also seeing the sharpest declines on the Aussie market. Software and services firm, Altium (ALU) is slipping 7.5% with Afterpay Touch (APT) down 4%. Although no sectors are in positive territory, the best performers are defensive sectors such as the consumer staples and property sectors.
Miners are having a mixed session. BHP Billiton (BHP) has received shareholder approval to change its name to BHP Group Ltd. BHP also reached an agreement with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to settle a dispute relating to its marketing operations in Singapore. BHP will pay a total of ~$529 million in additional taxes of which $328 million has already been paid. While most of the remaining miners are weaker, gold miners are improving with OceanaGold lifting 3.3% and Saracen Minerals (SAR) 4.5% higher.
In company news, the a2 Milk Company (A2M) is advancing 2% on a strong trading update at its AGM today. For the four months to October, revenue has lifted 40.5% to NZ$368.4 million while net profit (NPAT) is up 64.5% on the previous year on increased infant formula sales, particularly in China. Payment services business, Zip Co (Z1P) has signed an agreement with hardware chain Bunnings with the service available throughout the Bunnings Australian network by early December. Z1P shares are up 2.7% on the news.
Fletcher Building (FBU) is weaker by 9% as the building products maker expects HY19 earnings (EBIT) before significant items to be down 10% on the same time last year, due partly to challenging trading conditions in the Australian housing market.
The RBA remains upbeat on the economy following the release of minutes following its November meeting, expecting gradual growth in inflation and wages. The AUD buys 72.9 US cents. So far, 1.1B units have traded worth $1.7B with 272 stocks higher, 659 lower and 338 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec