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Aussie shares are snapping a four-day winning streak, slipping by 0.5 per cent at lunch as most sectors head lower. US stocks provided a weak lead as the Dow Jones fell on softer data while China lowered its target for economic growth this morning.
The National People’s Congress – a platform for Chinese officials to outline plans for the year ahead – has kicked off this morning. China has cut its goal for GDP growth this year to a 6- 6.5 per cent range while also announcing a major tax cut. Mining stocks remain under pressure at lunch.
Plenty of stocks are trading ex-dividend today including Oil Search (OSH), Medibank (MPL), Spark (SKI), Nine Entertainment (NEC), Estia Health (EHE), St Barbara Mines (SBM) and Nick Scali (NCK). None are large enough to make asignificant dent in the market today.
Losses from consumer discretionary stocks, miners and financials are weighing on the broader market. Property stocks and consumer staples are a touch firmer.
Coles (COL) has unloaded the management of its 87 pubs for $200m. The supermarket chain is underperforming the broader market so far Year-to-Date.
Metcash (MTS) is up 3.5 per cent at lunch after delivering a trading and strategy update on Monday. MTS – a distributor to more than 1600 grocery stores – is going to trial 10 convenience stores and will invest heavily in coming years to fight off Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.
 Energy stocks including Santos (STO) and Woodside (WPL) are firmer following a 1.4 per cent lift in oil prices on US-China trade optimism and OPEC supply cuts.
 Data on government finance and a broad measure of trade were both released today. Fourth quarter GDP is expected to print at 0.2 per cent tomorrow which could result in below trend growth of 2.4 per cent for the year. Household spending and public demand will make positive contributions while property investment exports will hold GDP back.
This is set to be a busy week for economic data (as is always the case when a new season kicks off). The Reserve Bank (RBA) holds its monthly meeting on policy today and is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold. The accompanying one page statement at 2.30pm AEDT will be looked through for any changes.
 988.5m shares were traded today worth $2.3bn. 389 stocks are up, 585 fell and 359 finished flat.
 Published by CommSec