The ASX 200 index is softer by 49 points or 0.75 per cent to 6543 and giving up some of the gains made over the first two sessions this week. The index is also looking to snap a three session winning streak. Losses have been across the board with nearly 80 per cent of the top 200 stocks in negative territory and every sector in reverse.
There is growing pessimism with slimming hopes for a positive outcome at the upcoming US-China trade talks happening in the coming days. Overnight, it was reported that the US will add 28 more Chinese companies to a US trade blacklist while also restricting visas for some Chinese officials. China is yet to announce any retaliation. The major indices on Wall St fell between 1.19 per cent and 1.7 per cent.
Locally, heavyweight health and banking stocks are contributing most to the broader losses. The big four banks are contributing more than one-fifth of the losses. ANZ Bank (ANZ) is leading the losses as it slides 1 per cent while the National Bank (NAB) is down the least by 0.4 per cent. CSL Ltd (CSL) is 1.4 per cent weaker and the main drag among health names.
Resource stocks are also weighing on demand concerns for most base metals and global oil prices. Major iron ore miners BHP Group (BHP), Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue (FMG) are all lower. However, gold miners are advancing on a flight to safety. Saracen Minerals (SAR) and Evolution Mining (EVN) are among the better performers, climbing 4.9 per cent and 1.9 per cent each.
In company news, Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals (CUV) surged as much as 50 per cent after the US FDA approved its SCENESSE treatment to be used to treat skin sensitivity to sunlight. CUV shares are now 38 per cent higher. Cleanaway (CWY) is also higher as the waste management firm agreed to buy the recycling assets of SKM Recycling, which was placed in receivership in August, for approx. $66 million. CWY shares are 4 per cent higher. Flight Centre (FLT) shares are sliding 9.7 per cent on a weaker trading update.
The Aussie dollar has held relatively steadily and is buying over 67.3 US cents despite the biggest fall in monthly consumer confidence for October in four years. So far, 1b units have changed hands worth $1.8b with 363 stocks higher, 548 weaker and 341 unchanged.
Published by CommSec