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Aussie shares have faded from a better start, with the ASX 200 down by 0.3 per cent at lunch following better than expected GDP figures out at 11:30am AEDT. The US market provided a positive lead in early trade, initially lifting the local bourse on the open.

The market has had a choppy week so far following the outsized ~10 per cent gains for the ASX 200 in November, which was not only the best month since March 1988 but the best November ever. While the local market lost ground in December over the past two years, the ASX 200 has improved in December more than 70 per cent of the time over the past 50 years.

On Wednesday, the market is being pulled in different directions by gains from mining companies and industrials, and losses from most other sectors. Financials, property, consumer discretionary, healthcare and energy stocks are down.

Mesoblast (MSB) is up 7 per cent after the FDA gave Remestemcel-L fast-track designation for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome due to COVID-19. Zip Co (Z1P) said that customers using its payments platform more than doubled over the past year to 5.3m in November. The buy-now-pay-later company added 464,000 new customers in November alone. Z1P now has 2.8m customers in the United States, which is around 300,000 more than in ANZ. Transaction volume rose by 44 per cent to $577.1m.

Westpac (WBC) announced the sale of its general insurance business to Allianz for $725m. The bank will enter an exclusive 20- year agreement for the distribution of general insurance products to Westpac customers.

Downer (DOW) has entered into an agreement to sell 70 per cent of its Laundries business for ~$155m to an entity established by Australian private equity firm, Adamantem Capital. Crown (CWN) has appointed Steven Blackburn as Chief Compliance & Financial Crimes Officer effective 1 March 2021. Mr Blackburn held a similar role at NAB.

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) is lifting by 4 per cent at lunch. The wine maker behind Penfolds slumped by 20 per cent over the prior three days due to Chinese trade tariffs which the group said will significantly impact sales considering it generates ~30 per cent of profits in China.

The Aussie economy grew by 3.3 in the September quarter after shrinking by 7 per cent in the June quarter and 0.3 per cent three months earlier. While GDP is still down 3.8 per cent over the year, today’s growth represents the end of Australia’s technical recession (two straight quarters of contraction).

2.8bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $3.2bn. 664 stocks are up, 504 are down and 377 are flat.

Published by CommSec