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The Australian sharemarket is sliding for a fourth straight day for the first time this year, with the ASX 200 down 0.6 per cent to 7,456.8. This follows a weak lead from Wall Street, which was down by ~1 per cent on signs the US central bank is considering reigning in some of its stimulus this year.

Local shares are most of the way through the worst week in close to seven months, however keep in mind that the ASX 200 hit four fresh record highs last week and has only fallen to a two and a half week low.

The number of COVID-19 cases being identified in Australia remains a concern, with a record 681 in NSW, while the 57 cases in Victoria was twice yesterday’s numbers. Qantas (QAN) and Sydney Airport (SYD) are both losing some ground.

Despite the ASX 200’s declines at lunch, most of the losses are linked to our iron ore miners. The price of iron ore slumped by 4 per cent yesterday, which means Australia’s largest export is down ~$80 or 34 per cent from the record highs hit just three months ago. One reason is concern that demand could fall in China due to proposed steel production cuts. BHP also announced its agreement to divest its oil and gas operations to Woodside yesterday.

Over a dozen companies have released their earnings this morning, with mixed reactions from market participants. Shares in Star Entertainment (SGR), Evolution (EVN), ASX, Airtasker (ART), Iress (IRE) and Newcrest (NCM) have been mostly higher so far today.

Star Entertainment (SGR) is up ~5 per cent after the casino operator handed down a 3.9 per cent lift in revenue and a 5 per cent decline in normalised profit to $116m. While no dividend was declared, SGR was profitable despite COVID-19 restrictions having a severe impact on its Sydney casino.

Evolution (EVN) is up ~2 per cent after handing down a 14 per cent lift in statutory profit to $345.3m. Despite an 8.8 per cent slide in gold production, profits still rose thanks to a decrease in costs and a lift in realised gold prices.

The July labour market report was released at 11:30am AEST today, with employment lifting by 2,200 (survey: -43,100), while the unemployment rate improved to 4.6 per cent (survey: 5 per cent). Keep in mind that there was a wide range of economist forecasts for today’s report and that the August and September reads are likely to be more telling, Most economists are expecting the next two reports to show more of the damage caused by lockdowns.

2.2bn shares have changed hands so far worth $4.4bn. 596 stocks are up, 664 down and 428 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec