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Selling has intensified for local shares on Tuesday with the escalation of US-China trade tensions. China announced that it will retaliate against the US tariff hike by lifting tariffs on $60 billion of US imports from June 1. US markets fell sharply overnight with the Dow Jones dropping more than 600 points and the NASDAQ plunged by 3.4%, its worst daily loss in 2019 so far.

The ASX 200 has fallen 78 points or 1.2% to 6220 heading into lunch with defensive sectors outperforming. The utilities and property trusts have seen the least losses while gold miners are improving on the back of a flight to safety as the gold price jumped 1.1%. Evolution Mining (EVN) is jumping 7.3%, Northern Star (NST) is 3.6% higher while Newcrest Mining (NCM) is lifting 1.6%.

Financials are again the main drag on the broader market as the big four banks ease by 1% or more. Westpac (WBC) is the best, down 1.5% while National Bank (NAB) is declining 5.3% as it trades ex-dividend. WBC will also trade ex-dividend this Thursday.

The tech sector is also falling heavily with Afterpay Touch (APT), Appen (APX) and Wisetech Global (WTC) all declining. The energy, healthcare and industrial sectors are also experiencing falls of at least 1%.

In company news, Mayne Pharma (MYX) is slumping 15% after providing a market update for its year-to-date performance. Sales over the second half have been impacted by increased competition for its key generic products. MYX is expecting a pick-up in sales in FY20. Elsewhere, funeral home operator InvoCare (IVC) has lifted 2.6% on its quarterly update. Revenue for the first quarter lifted 7.8% while operating earnings also improved by 9% as margins boosted.

On the economic front, NAB’s April business Conditions survey fell from March while weekly consumer confidence was also weaker last week by 2.1% to 114.8 but remains above the long-run average. The Aussie dollar continues to fluctuate as trade tensions intensify. The local unit is now buying 69.56 US cents.

So far, 1b units have traded worth $2.3b with 257 stocks higher, 694 lower and 324 unchanged.

Published by CommSec