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The weak start to Wednesday’s session is continuing into lunch with the ASX 200 remaining near the lows of the session around midday. The benchmark index is slipping 60 points or 1% at 5,977 and is back below 6,000. The falls come despite a relatively solid lead from Wall Street where the NASDAQ closed at another record high.

Investors locally were focussed on the latest Covid-19 cases to come out of Victoria over the past 24 hours with a new record of 725 cases and another 15 deaths. NSW reported 12 new cases in the same period.

Losses on the local bourse have been broad based with nearly every sector in the red. Selling has been harshest among financials, with the big four banks in decline by as much as 2.6% for the NAB. Healthcare, consumer staples and industrials are also experiencing some heavier falls.

Only one sector is managing to make improvements. Materials are slightly higher mainly due to the performance of the gold miners with the gold futures price holding above US$2,020/oz and around its all-time highs. St Barbara (SBM) is 4% higher while Northern Star (NST) is 3% firmer.

In company news, Virgin Australia (VAH) announced it is preparing to come out of voluntary administration under its new owners Bain Capital. The stock is still under a trading suspension and has been so since April. The airline will look to focus on domestic routes and short haul international flights, when possible. It will cut costs by axing the Tigerair brand and ~3,000 jobs.

Elsewhere, Splitit (SPT) has jumped 10% on its resumption to trade after receiving commitments to raise $90 million from institutional investors and will look to raise a further $10 million via a retail SPP. Funds will be used to continue its growth objectives (including technology and equipment spend along with sales & marketing).

The Aussie dollar has firmed against the greenback and is buying 71.8 US cents. New home loan commitments recovered by 6.2% in June, as recorded by the ABS. The value of new loan commitments for owner occupiers rose 5.5%, while investor housing rose 8.1%. First home buyer commitments rose 3.3%.

So far, 2.7b units have traded worth 2.6b with 607 stocks higher, 496 weaker and 339 unchanged.

Published by CommSec