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The ASX 200 is slumping by 0.75 per cent at lunch, slipping back below 6800pts and away from the 11-month high hit on Monday. The market is back online after shutting on Tuesday for the Australia Day public holiday, follows heavy losses across Asia markets yesterday, a weak lead from Wall Street and softer commodity prices.

Nine of the 10 worst performers on our market at midday are mining and energy stocks. The price of iron ore fell by 2.3 per cent overnight, while gold and oil also declined. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is down 5.5 per cent, Rio Tinto (RIO) down 3.3 per cent and the larger BHP is slumping by 3 per cent.

Ahead of the February profit reporting season, a number of resource stocks are continuing to release their latest quarterly updates. Oil Search (OSH) has produced a little less LNG over the December quarter, but thanks to surging energy prices its revenues still jumped by close to 40 per cent over the December quarter (when compared to the September quarter).

Beach Energy (BPT) is down 5.5 per cent, losing ground with the rest of the sector on Wednesday. BPT has been held back by a decline in production over the past quarter, which it said was offset by higher oil prices.

Reliance Worldwide (RWC) is up 7.5 per cent after the release of a trading update this morning. Thanks to strong demand for plumbing supplies across all its markets (Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe) it flagged a minimum 30 per cent lift in underlying profits, a 13 per cent jump in sales over the past half, a reduction in costs and lower debt.

Booktopia (BKG) is up 9.8 per cent after the recently listed online book retailer, flagged bigger profits. Revenue over the six months to December 2020 surged by 52 per cent to $113m while profits jumped by $8m (around six times its earnings from a year earlier). BKG said demand had been healthy throughout the Christmas period and that the company has been helped by additional automation and expanded distribution centre.

Consumer Inflation over the December quarter was 0.9 per cent; a touch above the market’s expectations, as childcare costs lift.

The latest State of the States report was released by CommSec this morning. The report which measures the performance of Australia’s states and territories is in its 12th year. Tasmania has topped the rankings for the fourth straight quarter, followed by the ACT, SA and VIC and then QLD.

Volume is heavy so far today, with 5bn shares traded worth $3.8bn. 607 stocks are up, 732 down and 358 are flat.

Published by CommSec