Australia’s share market is trading lower after the COVID-19 pandemic sunk consumer confidence to its lowest level since April and the Commonwealth Bank’s full-year cash profit dived 11.3 per cent.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 16.8 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 6121.9 points at 1200 AEST on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries index was lower by 24.5 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6247.6.
The monthly Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index – a pointer to future retail spending – fell 9.5 per cent in August.
It is close to the low of 75.6 points in April, when Australia entered lockdown due to the virus.
“The scale of the falls comes as a major surprise,” Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said.
The result comes a week after Victoria entered six weeks of stage four restrictions, and many businesses there have temporarily closed, to slow the virus’ spread.
Australia has recorded its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic after 21 people died in Victoria. There were 410 new cases.
The troubles of the economy were further underlined by wages growth recording a record low in the June quarter.
The June quarter wage price index grew just 0.2 per cent, the slowest rate since the Australian Bureau of Statistics began collecting the data in 1997.
Market news was dominated by the Commonwealth Bank results.
While the bank reported a bottom-line net profit of $9.6 billion for 2019/20, a 12.4 per cent increase, this was due to the sale of Colonial First State.
The bank will pay a final dividend of 98 cents per share, taking the full-year dividend to $2.98 fully franked, which is 31 per cent lower than 2018/19.
While Commonwealth shares were down 0.11 per cent to $74.62, its rivals did better. ANZ jumped 2.16 per cent to $18.89, NAB gained 2.18 per cent to $18.27 and Westpac rose 2.19 per cent to $18.17.
Financials were on course to be the best performing sector for the third consecutive day.
Pulling the market down was the materials sector, which lagged by 1.79 per cent.
BHP was lower by 0.63 per cent to $39.94, Rio Tinto lost 1.44 per cent to $101.31 and Fortescue was down 1.33 per cent to $18.13.
Information technology was the next poorest sector, down 0.73 per cent.
Elsewhere, online recruitment group Seek fell 9.68 per cent to $19.35 after reporting a full-year loss of $111.7 million.
Many businesses have limited hiring during the pandemic. Seek did not pay a dividend.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.34 US cents at 1200 AEST, down from 71.68 US cents at Tuesday’s close.