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Aussie shares have faded from a better start this morning, with the ASX 200 down by close to 0.2 per cent after a lacklustre performance for US equities overnight. This is the final trading day before the long weekend, the last day of the month and we are only a couple of days away from the end of daylight saving.
The Australian market will be closed on Friday and Monday for Easter which could keep shares a little unpredictable due to book squaring ahead of the holiday. Should the ASX 200 not lift by another ~0.75 per cent from current levels today, March will end up being the worst month for shares in more than two years. The selling pressure has been triggered partly by big falls in the US, concerns of a trade war between China and the US and substantial losses for American technology stocks.
Mining stocks remain the main weight on equities with heavyweights BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) down by ~1 per cent. Banks and property stocks are mostly higher which is helping offset some of the losses.
More than $2bn in dividend payments will be made to eligible investors today from companies including Telstra (TLS), Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Ramsay Health (RHC) and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN).
A2 Milk (A2M) remains under pressure a day after news Nestle has launched a competing a2 only infant formula product in China. A2M shares are down 3 per cent after sliding by 7.5 per cent on Wednesday. Bellamy’s (BAL) has also been pushed lower, down 9 per cent in two sessions.
The Star (SGR) is up 1 per cent following two Hong Kong based investors snapping up 5 per cent stakes each in the casino operator. The Star said that thanks to the $490m placement, it plans on increasing its dividend payout ratio from 50 per cent to 70 per cent starting with its final dividend (generally is paid in September).
The ACCC said it needs more time to review MYOB’s (MYO) proposed $180m purchase of accounting group Reckon’s business. MYOB expects the ACCC to make its decision over the next three months or so.
1.3bn shares have changed hands so far today, worth a substantial $3.7bn. 396 stocks are up, 546 are down and 378 are unchanged.
Published by CommSec