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Local shares are experiencing early losses following another volatile session on Wall Street. Despite major US indices managing to end modestly higher, the Aussie market has been unable to push higher with the ASX 200 slipping 10 points or 0.2% to 5579 heading towards lunch.
Losses remain broad based with the majority of sectors in the red. Financials have minimised further losses as the four major banks advance. The majors remain in focus with Annual General Meetings (AGMs) being held for ANZ Bank (ANZ) and National Bank (NAB) today. The big talking point at the NAB AGM has been executive pay with shareholders overwhelmingly rejecting the remuneration report by more than 80%. NAB shares are rising 1.2% with similar gains for Commonwealth Bank (CBA) while ANZ lifts 1.5%.
Gold miners continue to improve on a flight to safety. Oceanagold (OGC) is lifting 6.8%, Saracen Gold (SAR) is improving 6.3% while Northern Star (NST) climbs 5.2%.
Energy names are experiencing the largest percentage declines as crude oil prices slumped again overnight on concerns of slowing demand and potential for oversupply. Nymex crude fell 7.3% to $US$46.24 a barrel. Origin Energy (ORG) is declining 5.3% with Santos (STO) sliding 3.2% and Woodside (WPL) off by 2%. Airlines are benefitting from the slide in oil prices with Qantas (QAN) lifting 4.6%.
In company news, Bega Cheese (BGA) is easing 11.6% after providing a market update. Earnings (EBITDA) in FY19 is to be in the range of $123 million to $130 million. Its guidance has been impacted by drought conditions which have reduced dairy supplies along with increased farming costs and competitive pricing pressures.
Health insurers are improving after receiving approval to lift insurance premiums starting 1 April 2019. Medibank Private (MPL) is up 1.1% as it will lift premiums by 3.3% on average. Nib Holdings (NHF) will increase premiums by 3.38% and is edging 0.2% higher.
It is a quiet day on the local economic front, the Aussie dollar is back at 71.95 US cents after hitting lows of 71.65 in late US trade. So far, 1B units have been traded worth $2B with 387 stocks higher, 535 weaker and 300 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec