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The Aussie market is softer to start the new weak as the ASX 200 trades 33 points or 0.5% lower to 6,682 at lunch. The index was down as much as 54 points or 0.8% in the opening hour of the session. Local declines follow what was a rather weak lead from Wall Street as major US markets all eased on Friday ahead of a long weekend holiday.

Losses are being led by underperformance from resources as energy and materials both slide, financials are also among the larger decliners with these sectors weighing against improvements for healthcare, IT and retailers.

Falling commodity prices are mainly behind resource stocks trading mostly in the red. Major miners weighing most heavily on weaker iron ore prices, with BHP dropping 2.9% and Rio Tinto (RIO) shedding 2%. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is performing slightly better with a 0.9% drop.

Global oil prices fell over 2% in US trade which has led major oil & gas names to follow suit. Beach Energy (BPT) is suffering the sharpest fall of 3.8% while Woodside (WPL) is down 0.8% and Santos (STO) easing 1.2%.

Local tech giant, Afterpay (APT), which now has the same market cap as Telstra (TLS), jumped out of the blocks to a new all-time high on the open, popping 5.5% to $140.40 before falling back and is now reversing 0.4%.

Retail chains, JB Hi-Fi (JBH) and Super Retail Group (SUL) are both improving on trading updates. JBH’s preliminary figures saw sales grow 23.7% to $4.94 billion for the first half with online sales soaring 161% with its share price adding 3.5%. SUL sales growth was also around 23% with online sales 87% higher with statutory NPAT now anticipated around $170-173 million for the half. SUL shares are 1.5% higher.

QBE Insurance (QBE) is down 4.3% as the insurer continues to strengthen its risk margins on the growing
number of expected payouts for business interruptions due to COVID-19. The UK High Court ruling in favour of insured customers.

The AUD is also softer at 76.9 US cents on a firmer USD and ahead of Chinese GDP (economic activity) data due at 1pm AEDT.

Published by CommSec