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The Australian market is falling for a second day, as concerns of a deepening US-China trade war is fuelling a flight to safety for local equities. The ASX 200 is down 0.7 per cent or 45pts to 6445 with energy and banking stocks the main weights.

Both the US and China have been making comments and taking actions which do not instil confidence that either party is closer to striking a trade deal. China’s Commerce Ministry’s spokesman said that the US should correct its ‘wrong actions’ and show sincerity if it wants trade talks to continue. This pushed US stocks down as much as 1.3 per cent, oil 5.7 per cent and has supported gold.

Just 25 per cent of stocks on the ASX 200 are improving at lunch, mainly healthcare and gold stocks. The price of oil recorded its biggest tumble of 2019 due mainly to concerns of slower global growth and a strong lift in supply across the US
over the past week. Origin (ORG), Woodside (WPL) and Santos (STO) are down as much as 3 per cent today.

The banks are under some pressure following outsized gains recorded early this week.

Ansell (ANN) is up by around 3 per cent after receiving a broker upgrade thanks to lower raw material prices and the expectation of stronger profits.

Aristocrat Leisure (ALL) has improved by 8 per cent in two days. The poker machine game maker surged on Thursday after posting a better profit result which has triggered four broker price target upgrades today.

Estia Health (EHE) is down 5 per cent as the aged care provider flagged lower profits this morning. EHE blamed the downgrade on lower occupancy rates and bad publicity. The Aged Care Royal Commission kicked off in February.

No major economic news is due in Australia or the region today.

Despite today’s losses, keep in mind that the Australian sharemarket has significantly outperformed global peers this week. The ASX 200 is up by around 1 per cent while markets across the US, Europe and Asia have slumped by between 1-4.5 per cent. The surprise Coalition win and the RBA flagging rate cuts has helped.

1.2bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $2.4bn. 398 stocks are up, 558 down and 380 are flat.

Published by CommSec