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The Australian sharemarket (ASX 200) is down by 0.2 per cent or 14pts to 6,577 at lunch, snapping a four-day winning streak on rising geopolitical tensions. While equities are retreating globally today, the price of gold, the Japanese Yen, US dollar and bonds have strengthened. This tends to happen when markets are in defensive mode and seek safe havens.

US-China trade tensions, Brexit uncertainty, China-Hong Kong unrest and political instability in Italy are just some of the worries hitting markets.

The market is having a choppy start to Tuesday, with gains from gold stocks, offsetting some of the losses from banks, healthcare and consumer discretionary companies.

JB Hi-Fi (JBH) is down by 0.1 per cent and follows a 10 per cent lift in the retailer’s shares on Monday. Investors were encouraged yesterday by a 7.1 per cent lift in annual profit despite soft consumer spending in Australia. The news also helped pushed Harvey Norman (HVN) higher. JBH has received a number of price target upgrades by brokers this morning.

Fund manager Magellan (MFG) entered a trading halt as it raises $275m from the market to help launch a new ASX-listed investment trust. MFG shares have surged by 154 per cent Year-to-Date.

Challenger (CGF) has posted a 4.6 per cent slide in full-year profit to $307.8m while revenue jumped 8.3 per cent to $2.37bn. Despite the fund manager warning of challenging conditions, its shares are up 7 per cent at lunch.

Nickel prices rose on supply concerns after an Indonesian government minister said the nation will ‘expedite’ a ban on mineral ore exports. Indonesia accounts for around 16 per cent of global nickel supply. Western Areas (WSA) is up 0.6 per cent
while Independence Group (IGO) is lifting by 1.3 per cent.

Australian business confidence rose 2pts to +4pts in July vs June while conditions fell 2pts to +2pts over the month. The monthly survey is considered to provide key insights into the health of corporate Australia which continues to remain challenging.

Weekly consumer confidence fell by 0.3 per cent over the past week to 115.5pts. Retailers including Myer (MYR), Harvey Norman (HVN) and Kogan.com (KGN) are all higher regardless.

1.8bn shares have changed hands so far worth $3.2bn. 414 stocks are up, 548 are down and 365 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec