Aussie shares are recovering from some early weakness with the ASX 200 trading mostly flat around lunch at 5578. The top 200 index was down around 34 points at its worst near the open.
It was a weak lead from US markets with the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates for a fourth time in 2018 by 0.25% to be in the range of 2.25-2.5%. Wall St tumbled in response with the Dow Jones down 1.5% while the NASDAQ fell by more than 2%. While the Fed did indicate it would likely slow the pace of rate hikes in 2019, market participants were hoping for an even sharper slowdown.
A pickup for financials is helping the reversal for the broader market. The four major lenders are now mostly higher with Commonwealth Bank (CBA) leading the gains, up 0.6%. Consumer staples are also improving with supermarket giants among the outperformers. Woolworths (WOW) is advancing 0.8% while Coles Group (COL) is climbing 1.7%.
The resource sectors remain the main drag for the local market despite a slight rebound in commodity prices overnight. In the energy space, Origin Energy (ORG) is declining 2.6% while Woodside (WPL) is down 1%. Miners are also generally weaker. Diversified miner, South32 (S32) is softer by 1.8%. Steel producer, Bluescope Steel (BSL) is sliding 4.6%.
Accounting software firm MYOB (MYO) is one of the major movers to the downside on a reduced takeover offer from private equity firm KKR. The firm has lowered its offer of $3.77/share to $3.40 after completing its due diligence of the business. MYO shares have slipped 10.5%.
BWX Ltd (BWX), which manufactures and distributes skin and haircare products such as Sukin and Renew Skincare, has slumped 41% on an earnings downgrade for FY19 on softer sales to China and in its US brands.
Unemployment for November saw 37,000 jobs created vs an estimate of 20,000. The unemployment rate lifted slightly to 5.1% as the participation rate increased (more people actively looking for work). The AUD fell to a low of 71 US cents following the US rate rise but has since rebounded to 71.25 on the employment data. So far, 1.2B units have traded worth $4.6B. 387 stocks are higher, 481 lower and 318 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec