Investors on the Australian share market have watched the indices fall to a three week low after US markets fell steeply on soaring coronavirus infections and doubts about economic stimulus.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 70 points, or 1.13 per cent, to 6085.6 at 1200 AEDT on Tuesday.
The index fell steeply at the opening of trade, but reached its lowest point of the session just after 1100 AEDT, 6068.3.
The All Ordinaries was down by 76.7 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 6280.6.
The energy sector had the greatest decline, 2.48 per cent.
Information technology was not much better, down by 2.37 per cent.
Materials, which includes the miners, was 1.34 per cent lower, while financials dipped 0.8 per cent.
The US markets’ fall came after the number of Americans in hospital with COVID-19 jumped to a two-month high.
The United States, Russia and France set daily records for coronavirus infections.
Despite the gloom overseas, the economic picture is much better in Australia.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index grew by a further 1.6 per cent to 99.7 points in the past week, the highest level since March.
The index has risen for eight straight week.
The result comes as economists expect the Reserve Bank will next month cut the cash rate, the three-year bond yield target and the term funding facility rate for banks from 0.25 per cent 0.10 per cent.
Meanwhile Victoria reported a second-straight day of no coronavirus deaths and cases, as retail workers prepared to re-open businesses from Wednesday.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank says two-thirds of clients have restarted loan repayments after deferrals were put in place at the height of the pandemic.
As of October 16, just 6,797 customer accounts worth about $2.5 billion had deferred repayments, down 63 per cent since August and down 69 per cent since May.
Shares were higher by 0.74 per cent to $6.72.
The big four were all lower by less than one per cent.
Blackmores is selling its Global Therapeutics business to fellow health products supplier McPherson’s for $27 million.
Blackmores bought the therapeutics business in 2016 but management believe it is no longer a core brand.
Shares in Blackmores were higher by 4.21 per cent to $66.01.
Shares in McPherson’s were no longer trading due to an impending share sale, but last traded for $2.47.
Building materials supplier Boral was up 3.69 per cent to $4.90 after agreeing to sell its 50 per cent share in USG Boral to Knauf for $US1.01 billion.
USG Boral is a joint venture between the two companies, and Boral’s stake includes plasterboard-based businesses in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Middle East.
Boral will make a profit before tax of $540 million from the sale.
In mining, BHP dropped 1.51 per cent to $35.19, Rio Tinto shed 1.57 per cent to $93.17 and Fortescue fell 2.22 per cent to $16.24.
Earlier in the US, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about COVID-19 relief legislation. She remains optimistic an agreement can be reached before the election, a Pelosi spokesman said.
That belief didn’t help investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 650.19 points, or 2.29 per cent, to 27,685.38. The S&P 500 lost 64.42 points, or 1.86 per cent, to 3,400.97 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 189.35 points, or 1.64 per cent, to 11,358.94.
The Aussie dollar was buying 71.29 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 71.18 US cents at the close of trade on Monday.