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Aussie shares are in the red on Thursday with the ASX 200 tumbling 1.5% or 91 points within the first hour of trade. That followed a sharp drop in US futures on news that the FBI had identified attempts by Russia and Iran to interfere in the upcoming US election. The ASX 200 index has since recovered from those intraday lows but remains 45 points or 0.75% lower at 6,145 around midday. This is making it the worst decline in roughly three weeks.

Losses have been broad based at lunch. Among the largest decliners are IT, industrials and energy. Oil prices tumbled up to 4% overnight on concerns over US demand and a big lift in weekly US crude supplies. Oil Search (OSH) is one of the weakest performers, down 4.2%.

Two of the larger local oil & gas producers, Woodside (WPL) and Santos (STO) also released quarterly production updates this morning. WPL reported its Sept Qtr production up slightly on the year before, lifting 2% to 25.3mmboe with sales volumes also up year on year to 26.7mmboe. However with the large drop in oil prices, revenue fell 42%. WPL shares are 1.9% lower.

Santos (STO) also reported a lift in production with 3Q20 a record quarter of 25.1mmboe with sales volumes also higher. While the average oil price is up on 2Q20, revenue year-todate in 2020 is down on the same time in 2019 on a 33% drop in the average realised oil price. STO is 1.5% softer.

Gold miner, Resolute Mining (RSG) is 7.7% lower on its quarterly update confirming a 19% fall in gold production quarter on quarter due to strike action at its Syama mine. Gold sold was also down 18% qoq.

In other news, Westpac (WBC) is down 0.6% after confirming it sold its ~55.2 million shares in BNPL provider ZipCo (Z1P) at $6.65 a share. It announced earlier this week it is teaming up With rival Afterpay (APT). Z1P is down 4.2%.

On the upside, miners BHP Group (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are improving 0.4% and 0.45% respectively on a firmer iron ore price. Meanwhile, medical centre operator Helius (HLS) is 6% higher as it holds its AGM. Star Group (SGR) is down 1.5% as it also holds its AGM.

The Aussie dollar is holding just above 71 US cents. So far, 3.3b units have traded worth $3.1b with 490 stocks higher, 650 weaker and 375 unchanged.

Published by CommSec