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Aussie shares continue to fall as US-China trade tensions put downward pressure on global equity markets. The ASX 200 is weaker for a fourth straight session, down 63 points or 0.93% to 6705.5 towards lunch, following Wall Street’s worst weekly performance in 2019 for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Asian markets have also suffered heavy losses which has contributed to local market weakness.

The moves on the local market can also be attributed to light volumes with a bank holiday in NSW and public holiday in the Northern Territory.

Losses are across the board with every sector in the red and being led by information technology, materials, healthcare and industrials which are all experiencing losses of more than 1.5%.Defensive sectors such as the utilities and real estate are outperforming the wider market.

Miners are being dragged lower by a pullback in iron ore prices as lower steel prices and higher iron ore supplies in China discouraged demand. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is among the worst performers among ASX 200 companies, down 5.7%. BHP Group (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) have both also eased more than 2.5%. Gold miners have continued to rally on a flight to safety.

In company news, Oil Search (OSH) is lifting 3.1% with encouraging comments from the Papua New Guinean government about its LNG Gas agreement. Elsewhere, student loan firm, Credible Labs (CRD) is 6.3% higher after agreeing to a merger with a Fox Corporation subsidiary for $585 million. Shareholders will receive $2.21 per CDI listed on the ASX.

Wesfarmers (WES) has received ACCC approval for its proposed $230 million acquisition of online retailer Catch Group. The transaction is expected to be completed in August 2019. WES shares are 1.2% higher.

The Aussie dollar has fallen sharply to 67.7 US cents as trade woes weigh on the local unit. A sharp decline in the Chinese Yuan against the US greenback has been another factor for AUD softness.

So far, 1.4b units have been traded worth $1.9 billion with 379 stocks higher, 615 lower and 375 unchanged.

Published by CommSec