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Sellers took charge of the session in opening trade on Friday, despite modest gains for US stocks overnight. The ASX 200 started the day around the unchanged mark before the Index retreated by as much as 50 points at the lowest level of the day so far.

The softer tone came despite US sharemarkets ending higher in overnight trade. Weaker economic data, earnings results, Brexit news in addition to a ceasefire in Syria agreed by Turkey and the US, all combined to result in a modest gain for the Dow Jones, up 0.1%, while the broader market and Tech names fared better by comparison with the S&P500 index ending 0.3% to the good and the Nasdaq adding 0.4%.

Telecoms were the only sector to advance over the morning, Telstra (TLS) rose 2 cents or 0.7% to $3.60, although TPG Telecom (TPM) fell 11 cents or 1.6% to $6.67. Consumer Staples and Information Technology were the leading decliners. Afterpay Touch (APT) shares were down $2.19 or 6.8% to $29.78, WiseTech Global (WTC) remained in trading halt, after the group requested time to respond to allegations made in recently published research reports, ensuring that trading ‘does not take place in an uninformed or false market’. Early turnover saw 1.3 billion shares traded worth $3.1 billion with 453 stocks higher, 533 weaker and 344 unchanged.

Seven West Media (SWM) shares were firmer by 0.6% at 38.25 cents after announcing the merger with regional media company, Prime Media Group (PRT). The deal is an all-scrip transaction that will see PRT shareholders receive 0.4582 SWM shares for each Prime share. As a part of the agreement SWM will sell its WA based radio business, Redwave, to Southern Cross Media (SXL) for $28 million. PRT shares were lately at 18.5 cents for a gain of 0.5 cents or 2.8%

Sydney Airport (SYD) reported that air traffic volumes rose 1.4% to 3.65 million in September compared to the same month last year , although in year-to-date terms traffic had eased by 0.1% to 32.8 million. International traffic outpaced the domestic measure, climbing 1.9 per cent to 1.365 million passengers, while domestic traffic was up 1.2% to 2.286 million. Indian arrivals continued their recent strength, delivering a second consecutive month of double-digit growth, with an 11.2% increase compared to the same time last year while marking an 8.4% rise year to date. Shares in Sydney Airport (SYD) were at $8.33 following a fall of 10 cents or 1.2%

Gold names were generally lower as a group led by St Barbara Ltd (SBM) whose share price was lower by 8% or 22 cents at $2.55. The miner of the yellow metal lowered its production guidance for 2020 reflecting challenges at the groups Gwalia operations. As a result Gwalia gold production for the 2020 Financial year (FY20) has been revised lower to between 175,000 and 190,000 ounces compared to a previous forecast of 200,000 to 210,000 ounces, with All-In Sustaining Costs (AISC) of between A$1,390 and A$1,450 per ounce versus an earlier estimate of A$1,230 to A$1,290 per ounce.

In currency trade the AUD/USD has lifted towards 0.6830, up more than 1.0% from its level before the release of yesterday’s September unemployment report, which showed an unexpected 0.1%pt decline in the unemployment rate to 5.2%. The better that expected unemployment rate dashed any hopes of an interest rates cut in November.

Published by CommSec