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The Aussie market is taking a breather after two days of heavy selling. The ASX 200 is managing to lift a touch at lunch with a gain of 5 points or 0.09 per cent to 6498.6. This follows a recovery on Wall Street as the recent softer economic data raises expectations for the US Fed to cut rates further. Markets are also awaiting the non-farm payroll numbers (employment) out of the US tonight.

It has still been a rough start to October with the index falling more than 3 per cent for the week so far and is on track for the worst weekly performance since late October 2018.

Today, the healthcare sector is contributing most to gains. CSL Ltd (CSL) is doing much of the heavy lifting as it moves 2.8 per cent higher, adding 9 points to the broader index on its own. It is being supported by advances of more than 2 per cent for Pro Medicus (PME) and Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals (CUV). Energy and mining names are also modestly higher.

The IT sector is also improving, mirroring the performance of US tech names. Nearmap (NEA) is rising 3.9 per cent with Xero (XRO) and Appen (APX) are climbing 2.8 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively. Afterpay Touch (APT) is underperforming as it trades flat.

The main drag so far has been the performance of the financials. The big four banks in particular have continued to ease, with losses up to 1 per cent. National Bank (NAB) shares have underperformed its peers sliding 7 per cent this week.

In company news, St Barbara (SBM) is lagging other gold miners after releasing a quarterly update this morning. Production came in at 87,569 ounces with investors seemingly disappointed with the numbers. SBM shares are down 2.5 per cent while the majority of gold names are advancing.

Retail sales for August were slightly short of a consensus estimate of 0.5 per cent growth. Sales rose 0.4 per cent with food retailing rising most. The Aussie dollar remains around 67.56 US cents with a higher revision for July supporting the local unit.

So far, 1b units have changed hands worth $2.1b with 534 stocks higher, 393 lower and 338 unchanged.

Published by CommSec