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Wall Street swung between heavy losses on the open with the Dow Jones staging its biggest comeback in six weeks. US markets all opened significantly lower after China unveiled potential retaliatory tariffs of its own against US imports totalling US$50 billion and targeting 106 products including soybeans, aircrafts and whiskey. The Dow was as low as 510 points or 2.1% but recovered to close 230 points or 1% higher as both sides tried to play down a trade war scenario. The Aussie market has continued on Wall Street’s form, lifting on the open and continuing its gains towards lunch. At the time of writing, the ASX 200 is 32 points or 0.55% higher at 5793 points.
The financials sector has been the driving force of gains on the local market with the major banks all recording advances. National Australia Bank (NAB) and ANZ Bank (ANZ) the best performing, both up 1.3%. Strength in consumer staples are being led by improvements in Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), up 2.6% and a 0.9% lift in Wesfarmers (WES). Most sectors are recording gains but weakness in materials and utilities is keeping a lid on gains on the wider market. Miners are being weighed by weakness in iron ore prices which slipped 1.3% overnight. Our largest miners, BHP and Rio Tinto (RIO) are both weaker by 0.4% and 1.2% respectively with Fortescue hit the hardest, down 2%. AGL Energy (AGL) is declining 1.6% as continued speculation on the lifespan of its coal powered power station. AGL is looking to close the plant in 2022 but the Federal Government is insisting the energy provider sell the plant for it to continue operating past 2022.
MG Unit Trust (MGC) which is the trust vehicle for Murray Goulburn is holding an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in relation to the company’s potential takeover by Canadian dairy company Saputo after the ACCC approved the sale yesterday. MGC is down 0.5% today. Afterpay Touch (APT) has recovered some of its recent losses, rising 4%, with the payments solutions firm’s practices and founder’s share ownership coming under question in recent times. APT has fallen 19% since March this year.
On the economic front, Australia’s trade surplus has narrowed in February to $825 million from $952 million in January with both exports and imports little changed in Feb. The Aussie dollar was as high as US77.25c this morning but has slipped back to US77.1c after the trade data release. So far, 1.2B units have traded worth $1.7B with 547 stocks higher, 443 lower and 366 unchanged.
Published by CommSec