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Despite a strong start to trade, the Australian sharemarket finished at session lows after losing 49 points or 0.7 per cent, to 7106. The Tech sector was the only sector to finish in positive territory following a 1.5 per cent lift in the tech-heavy Nasdaq overnight. Falling coal and gold prices put pressure on material stocks today, causing the Materials sector to post its largest daily loss in a week. Both the Consumer Discretionary sector and the Health Care sector have fallen for the past four straight days.

The Consumer Staples sector was the worst performing sector today after it fell by 2.5 per cent. It was weighed by a 6 per cent fall in shares of Endeavour Group (EDV) after it warned that consumer demand may fall because of rising costs. Shares of Woolworths (WOW) and Coles (COL) also fell by 2.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent, respectively.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has said that the cost of investment goods rose by 2.2 per cent in the quarter to be up 6.6 per cent on the year – the biggest annual increase in 33½ years. New business investment also fell by 0.3 per cent in the March quarter, but was still up by 4.5 per cent on the year.

In company news, shares of Appen (APX) climbed 29.2 per cent before entering a trading halt. This comes after it received a takeover proposal from TELUS International. Under the proposal, Telus will acquire APX for A$9.50 per share. APX has said that its board is “in discussions with Telus to seek an improvement in the terms of the Indicative Proposal”. Ahead of its annual general meeting tomorrow, APX has also provided a trading update, outlining that its year-to-date revenue is lower than what it was last year. APX shares are on track to post their first monthly gain in the past five months.

Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC) shares finished 0.1 per cent higher to $23.90 after entered into an agreement with BT Funds Management, to merge BT’s personal and corporate superannuation funds, with Mercer Super Trust. WBC has also sold off its Advance Asset Management business to Mercer Australia. WBC expects the net effect of the merger and sale to be an after-tax gain of $225 million.

3.3bn shares were traded, worth $7.2bn. 608 stocks finished higher, 755 ended lower, while 432 closed unchanged.

In the US, economic growth, pending home sales and weekly jobless claims data are issued

Published by CommSec