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The Australian market is following US stocks lower at lunch, with the ASX 200 down 1.3 per cent. This is enough to wipe out all Monday’s improvements and places the index near a twoyear low. All sectors are down with energy and tech stocks on the receiving end of the most substantial selling.
US stocks hit nine-month lows overnight as a number of geopolitical concerns weighed on sentiment. Investors are also cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision Thursday morning. The market is pricing in a 70 per cent chance of a US rate hike however economists will pay most attention to the tone of Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s statement.
Fears of a potential partial US government shutdown next week should President Trump not receive the necessary funding to build a wall with Mexico is also a concern.
The banks remain a weight on the market with the big four down as much as 2.5 per cent. ANZ and Macquarie (MQG) are paying out $3bn in dividends to eligible shareholders today.
The gold subsector is lifting at lunch as the market’s risk aversion has pushed the price of the precious metal higher overnight. Newcrest (NCM), St Barbara Mines (SBM) and Evolution Mining (EVN) are up strongly.
Fletcher Building (FBU) is up 3.5 per cent after confirming its intention to restart paying dividends in FY19 for the first time since October 2017. The building products company has also announced the US$840m sale of its benchtop and door retailing business, Formica.
Caltex (CTX) is down 6.5 per cent after cutting its 2018 profit expectations. The oil refiner expects earnings to slide by 16 per cent on last year due to an unplanned outage, lower margins and higher costs.
Carsales.com (CAR) is slipping by 1.5 per cent. The group anticipates a $48m impairment charge on its Stratton Finance investment. CAR has blamed this on ASIC legislation changesand tighter credit market conditions.
CIMIC (CIM) is down 1.9 per cent. The construction group secured a $150m contract extension to provide mining services at a BHP operated Caval Ridge coal mine in Queensland.
634.5m shares have changed hands so far today worth $1.4bn. 244 stocks are up, 611 are down and 315 are flat.
Published by CommSec