Despite the Aussie market opening higher on Wednesday, the ASX 200 turned around early advances to fall to a narrow decline at lunch, with the index easing 6 points or 0.1 per cent to 6689. Local shares have been trading in a tight range of 20 points ahead of the US Federal Reserve decision on interest rates early Thursday morning (4am AEST) and tomorrow’s local jobs data for August.
So far, energy & mining stocks are among the major laggards. Global oil prices fell sharply overnight as Saudi Arabia confirmed that it had partially restored output to its damaged oil plants following drone attacks on the weekend While also claiming that production could be fully running by the end of September. The Brent crude price fell by 6.5% and the US Nymex price fell 5.7%. Woodside (WPL), the largest listed energy producer, is falling 2.8 per cent while Beach Energy (BPT) is bucking the trend and lifting 2.2 per cent.
Miners are also softer with metals prices generally weaker overnight. However, gold miners are climbing with Newcrest Mining (NCM) higher by more than 1 per cent. Smaller gold miners such as Resolute Mining (RSG) are up 3 per cent or more. Elsewhere, the financials are also weighing with the big four banks all lower.
Losses could be more severe if not for positive moves for IT, health and industrials. The tech sector is making the biggest percentage gain on a 3.4 per cent lift for Wisetech Global (WTC). For the industrials, Qantas (QAN) was up by 5.8 per cent at its best levels after receiving a broker upgrade with its oil hedging position seen as smoothing out oil price volatility for the airline. QAN has come back from those highs and is now 2.7 per cent higher.
In other company news, adventure retailer Kathmandu (KMD) is jumping 5.3 per cent as Australian sales have helped lift its overall sales by 9.7 per cent to NZ$212.6 million over FY19. Sales to start FY20 have also improved in both NZ and Australia with same store sales growth lifting in the first seven weeks of the new financial year.
The Aussie dollar had a softer session during US trade but has clawed back to buy 68.52 US cents with little major economic data on the domestic front out today.
So far, 1.4b units have changed hands worth $2.6b with 531 stocks higher, 442 weaker and 344 unchanged.