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The Australian sharemarket has kicked off the day in negative territory, with the ASX 200 down 0.4 per cent, is back below 6000pts and near four-week lows partly on a political crisis in Italy. Almost every sector is losing ground and seven in 10 companies on the ASX are down.
US markets tumbled by 1.5 per cent last night after returning from a long weekend while shares in Europe were equally under pressure. The main catalyst were the political complications in Italy. Following an inconclusive election outcome, there is a likelihood fresh elections might need to be held and concerns this could result in a push for Italy to leave the euro zone.
Note that despite Aussie shares slipping for eight of the past ten days, the ASX 200 was near decade highs earlier this month.
Energy stocks continue to follow oil prices lower. The price of the commodity has plummeted by ~10 per cent in a little over a week due to concerns Russia and Saudi Arabia are considering easing production cuts which have been in place for more than a year.
The big banks are down an average 1 per cent while Macquarie (MQG) is falling by a more substantial ~3 per cent. ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) has agreed to sell its Onepath Life NZ business for NZ$700m and is expecting a gain of ~$50m after costs on the sale. ANZ continues to simplify its operations.
Telstra (TLS) is under pressure, remaining near seven-year lows after delivering a profit warning in recent weeks.
REA Group (REA) is down 5 per cent. The operator of property website received ACCC approval to buy Hometrack Australia (provider of data analytics services to lenders) for $130m.
Consumer related stocks are mixed. Grocery distributor Metcash (MTS) remains one of the worst, down 2 per cent and is sitting near six-month lows on the potential loss of some contracts in South Australia. Retail Food Group (RFG) is continuing to surge on the appointment of a new CEO yesterday. The company behind Gloria Jeans and Donut King was in need of some optimism considering its shares hit record lows just last week.
The standouts are generally defensives due to a flight to safety. Gold miners like Evolution (EVN), Northern Star (NST) and OceanaGold (OGC) are up. Healthcare stocks including CSL are lifting while in the Utilities space, AGL and APA are both improving.
1.1bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $2.6bn. 394 stocks are up, 583 are down and 404 are flat.
Published by CommSec