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The Aussie market is back in negative territory with local shares opening in the red and trading lower following losses on Wall St overnight. The ASX 200 is down 53 points or 0.8% to 6764. At session lows, the index was down 101 points or 1.5%. US markets fell on continued volatility in US bond markets, impacting technology stocks the hardest.

Locally, losses have been rather broad based with nearly all sectors in the red. The main improvement I in financials with the big four banks all advancing. ANZ Bank (ANZ) is outperforming its peers with a 2.6% rally while property trusts are also enjoying a slight lift.

Sectors underperforming most are materials, healthcare and consumer staples. Declines for these sectors, and the market more broadly, comes down to losses for several heavyweight stocks that are trading ex-dividend. Supermarket giant Woolworths (WOW) is 3.2% softer while biotech giant CSL Ltd (CSL) is 3.7% weaker. Miners, BHP Group (BHP) is 2.9% lower while Rio Tinto (RIO) is sliding 5.4% as they trade ex-dividend. Both will be paying record dividends to eligible shareholders. Those four companies alone are detracting ~40 points from the ASX 200 index. Other stocks trading ex-dividend include ASX Ltd (ASX), Nine Entertainment (NEC) and NIB Holdings (NHF).

Fortescue Metals (FMG), while not trading ex-dividend is also 3.2% softer and is another major weight on the broader market. Another big decliner has been Myer (MYR), dropping 12%. The department store released its first half profit results this morning and while its statutory net profit rose 76% to $43 million, it was mostly on nonrepeated or one-off costs experienced last year. Underlying NPAT rose a smaller 8.4% while total sales shrank 13% to $1.4 billion. Online sales though were far stronger, rising 71% to $287.6 million. MYR again declared no dividend.

On the economic front, January retail sales saw a modest improvement of 0.5%, slightly below a 0.6% rise in preliminary data. However, international trade data was far stronger than expected for January with a surplus of $10.1 billion, well above expectations and a record surplus to boot.

The AUD is slightly firmer around 77.78 US cents.

Published by CommSec