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Despite a positive start to the session, the Aussie market has faded towards lunch. The ASX 200 opened around 10 points or 0.2% higher in spite of a weak lead from Wall Street. The local index has reversed the early gains and trades around 10 points or 0.2% lower at lunch.
Energy and healthcare stocks are the main drags with Santos (STO) slumping 9% after rejecting Harbour Energy’s final proposal for the oil & gas producer and terminating all future discussions with the firm believing the offer price was too low. Other major producers are also lower with Woodside (WPL) down 1.7% and Oil Search (OSH) 1.5% weaker. Among the health stocks, CSL has slipped 0.9% and private hospital operator, Healthscope (HSO) is off another 2.5% following its decision yesterday to reject two competing bids for the company while downgrading its earnings guidance.
The telcos and the major miners are providing some resistance to broader losses. BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are between 0.3-0.4% higher and Telstra (TLS) is recouping some of its recent losses by lifting 0.4%. The financials are mixed with three of the big four banks weaker, both Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and National Bank (NAB) are down 0.4% while Macquarie Group (MQG) is 1% higher. CBA announced that it has agreed to exit its stake in a Chinese life insurer for $668 million.
Rio Tinto has confirmed that it is in discussions with an Indonesian aluminium miner for the sale of its Grasberg copper and gold mine in Papua, Indonesia. RIO says the talks are still in progress and no sale price has been confirmed.
Sirtex Medical (SRX) is falling 3.5% after the medical device company received an upgraded offer by China-based CDH Genetech for $33.60/share. Varian, which has an existing $28/share offer for SRX has responded by saying it will not make a counterbid for the company.
The battle over control of department store Myer (MYR) continues with an update sent to shareholders in response to Premier Investments (PMV) CEO Solomon Lew’s most recent criticism of the running of Myer by the current board. Myer shares are declining 5.9% while PMV is 0.2% lower.
The Aussie dollar has fallen from its earlier highs of the day to currently trade around 75.6 US cents as construction work done for the March quarter was up 0.2% compared to a consensus lift of 1.3%, according to Bloomberg. So far, 1.4B units have traded worth $2.3B with 502 stocks higher, 444 lower and 388 unchanged.
Published by James Tao (Author), CommSec