SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market was a little lower, and most sectors down, as the GameStop trading controversy continued to unsettle investors.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 10.3 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 6597.1 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 15.7 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 6855.2.
Energy and utilities had the steepest falls of more than one per cent, while major sector financials lost 0.44 per cent.
The best performing sector was materials, up 0.53 per cent.
The market indices fell sharply in the first hour of trade. The ASX200 sunk to a session low of 6517.2. Both indices have since improved.
US markets provided a weak lead after conflict continued on Friday between Wall Street hedge funds and retail investors.
Retail investors traded stocks such as GameStop and Koss, which hedge funds bet would dive.
Retail investors are trying to inflict heavy financial losses on the professionals.
The stocks shot higher after brokers including Robinhood eased some of the restrictions they had placed on trading.
Meanwhile many Western Australians have completed their first night of lockdown, triggered after a hotel quarantine security guard attended more than a dozen venues while infected with COVID-19.
People in Perth, the Peel region and the South West entered lockdown on Sunday. The restrictions will last until Friday.
People must stay at home unless shopping for essentials, attending to medical or healthcare needs, exercising or working if unable to do so remotely.
Housing prices rose further in January to surpass their previous 2017 peak, with regional property values growing at twice the pace of capital cities.
The CoreLogic national home value index was up 0.9 per cent in January to stand one per cent higher than its pre-COVID level and 0.7 per cent higher than the previous September 2017 peak.
Every capital city recorded a rise over the month, ranging from a 2.3 per cent surge across Darwin to a relatively mild 0.4 per cent increase in Sydney and Melbourne.
On the ASX, engineering firm Worley fell by 14.44 per cent to $9.77 after it said COVID-19 effects and the exchange rate would affect first-half earnings, due February 23.
The company said customers had deferred projects since the virus intensified overseas from October.
Earnings would be between $200 million and $210 million, according to Worley. This would be substantially lower than the earnings of $366 million reported for its previous first-half.
The company said earnings were expected to improve in the second-half.
Coca-Cola’s European business’ attempt to buy the Australian operation has met no resistance from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Coca-Cola Amatil said the board’s approval was one condition of the European bid, unveiled in November.
New Zealand’s equivalent agency must also approve the bid, as must Amatil shareholders, courts and a third-party expert.
Shares were up 0.26 per cent to $13.11.
Gold miner Northern Star said Western Australia’s lockdown should not affect its production and exploration in the state.
All of Northern Star’s operations are outside the lockdown boundaries set by the state government.
Shares were lower by 1.36 per cent to $12.67.
Among major miners, BHP improved 0.81 per cent to $43.91, Fortescue rose 0.45 per cent to $21.89 and Rio Tinto gained 1.36 per cent to $111.82.
In banking, the big four banks and Macquarie were all lower by less than one per cent.
The Aussie dollar was buying 76.35 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 76.45 US cents at Friday’s close.