The local market climbed by as much as 0.5 per cent in early trade, but erased its gains in anticipation of a key inflation update in the US tonight, with the ASX 200 wrapping up the session with a modest 0.07 per cent or 4.9-point loss, to 6642.6. The Financials sector extended its rebound and rose by 1.4 per cent, helped in part by a strong rally in the Big 4 banks. Oil producers Woodside (WDS) and Santos (STO) fell for the fourth straight day, dragging the broader Energy sector 0.9 per cent lower. Elsewhere in the market, the Telecommunications and Health Care sectors fell for the sixth straight day. Nine sectors and 61 per cent of stocks in the ASX 200 lost ground.
A key inflation update is scheduled to be issued in the US tonight. Markets predict the headline CPI figure to ease from an annual rate of 8.3 per cent, to 8.1 per cent, and expect the core CPI figure – the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation – to lift modestly to 6.5 per cent. A hotter-than-expected inflation print may encourage the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates by a faster and more aggressive pace than expected. The uncertain backdrop has partly supported a rally in local gold stocks, given the safe-haven nature of the underlying commodity.
Qantas (QAN) was the best performer today on the ASX 200, after its shares surged 8.7 per cent higher. This comes after the airliner announced that it expects its first-half underlying profit before tax, to be between $1.2 billion – $1.3 billion. QAN also forecast its net debt to fall between $3.2 billion to $3.4 billion by the calendar-year end, which is below its target range of $3.9 billion.
Medibank Private (MPL) has entered into a trading halt after it detected ‘unusual activity on its network’. The private health insurance provider said that at this stage, there is ‘no evidence’ that ‘sensitive data’ has ‘been accessed’. MPL shares last closed at $3.52 and are up by 5 per cent so far this year.
NIB Holdings (NHF) resumed trade today and fell 12 per cent, making it the worst performer on the ASX 200. This comes after the health care fund announced a $135 million institutional equity raise, at a placement price of $6.90 (8.1 per cent discount to its previous close).
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The Star Entertainment Group (SGR) announces that Mr Robert Cooke will ‘commence in his role as Managing Director and CEO on Monday, 17 October 2022’. Mr Cooke’s appointment was announced on 29 June 2022. SGR shares finished 1.6 per cent higher.
Today, 2.9bn shares were traded, worth $7.4bn. 627 stocks rose, 703 fell & 383 finished unchanged.
In the US, the Consumer Price Index is issued with weekly data on claims for unemployment insurance (jobless claims).
Originally published by Divik Nigam – (Author), CommSec