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The Aussie market is pushing higher at lunch with a firmer start to the new trading week. The ASX 200 is continuing on from a solid finish to last Friday and is gaining another 39 points or 0.6% to 6748. This follows a solid lead from Wall Street which was boosted by positive trade comments and favourable economic data.

The gains for local shares have been broad based with every sector holding in positive territory. Consumer staples are slightly underperforming with super market giants Coles (COL) and Woolworths (WOW) falling. Miners have contributed most to the broader gains with BHP Group (BHP) up 1.9% while Rio Tinto (RIO) is 2.3% higher.

The tech sector is also seeing significant gains, helped by a 10.5% improvement for buy-now pay-later company, Afterpay Touch (APT). The independent auditor has provided its final report in regards to APT’s Anti-Money Laundering & Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) commitments, with the auditor making mention that there have been no breaches to date and it is a “low risk business” for these issues. The report has been given to AUSTRAC to decide if any action is necessary.

Westpac (WBC), which is also facing AUSTRAC for breaches in AML/CTF, continues to slide after falling 7% last week. Australia’s second largest bank is down another 0.7% but was lower by roughly 2% at its worst levels today. WBC released a response plan to AUSTRAC claims with a commitment to improve its financial crime program and
closing its LitePay platform (international payments system).Implementation of the plan is likely to increase expenses by $80 million (pre tax) in FY20.

It has been a better day for Caltex (CTX) with the fuel provider proposing to spin off a 49% stake in 250 of its 500 convenience stores and service stations via an IPO as a way to unlock capital and add shareholder value. CTX shares are up 6.3%. Nufarm (BUF) is one of the worst performers with the crop protection firm slumping 18% as it expects significantly lower first half earnings compared to the year before on tough trading conditions.

With no major economic release due, the Aussie dollar is remaining near 67.97 US cents. So far, 1.2b units have traded worth $2b with 532 stocks higher, 432 weaker and 351 unchanged.

Published by CommSec