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Local shares are following Wall Street’s lead in early trade on Thursday. The ASX 200 is down 22 points or 0.3% to 6510. The Aussie market is down for the first time this week even on further positive news out of Pfizer’s vaccine trial. Investors remain more focussed on new lockdown measures in parts of the US which are likely to hamper economic growth.

Losses are across the majority of sectors with healthcare underperforming most as larger health stocks retreat. Biotech giant, CSL Ltd (CSL) is down 1.2% while Cochlear (COH) is easing 2%. Meanwhile consumer staples and property are also among the bigger decliners. Leading improvements are utilities, consumer discretionary and industrials.

The financials sector is flat even with most of the big four banks making gains. Westpac (WBC) is up most, rallying 1.5% while Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is the sole decliner of the big four. Macquarie Group (MQG) is also down 1% but the largest losses in the sector are among insurance names. QBE Insurance (QBE) is down 4% while Suncorp (SUN) is 2.8% weaker with insurers losing their case in the NSW Court of Appeals in relation to business interruptions cover relating to COVID-19. Insurance Australia Group (IAG) is in a trading halt as it assesses the potential financial impact and its capital levels from the ruling.

Crown Resorts (CWN) is also in the red, down 2.2%, as the company announced a delay in the opening of its gaming operations at its $2 billion casino at the Barangaroo site in Sydney following a NSW inquiry. CWN will still be able to open non-gaming operations in December.

One of the big winners today is Bluescope Steel (BSL) with a gain of 5%. The steel producer lifted its 1H21 underlying earnings guidance by ~40% from the same time last year to $475 million. The lift was driven by stronger demand in materials for home building and large factories and warehouse facilities in the US. BSL also benefitted from a property sale.

The October jobs release easily beat market expectations with 178,000 jobs added in the month compared to expectations of ~30,000 jobs lost. The unemployment ticked higher to 7% as the participation lifted to 65.8%. The AUD is falling to 72.9 US cents.

Publishe by CommSec