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Local shares started the session with a lack of conviction Wednesday, reflected in the narrow range traded over the morning. The ASX 200 started the day with a 2 point deficit, which was the low of the morning; at the best level of the morning the index was ahead by 9 points. This, despite US and European equity markets being on a better footing over night, after the selling pressure that marked the previous day subsided. Turnover to lunch saw 1.1 billion shares traded, worth $1.5 billion. 503 stocks were higher, 477 lower and 430 were unchanged. 
The consolidation locally came after a trifecta of losing days, and was helped by US sharemarkets overnight, which recovered from the previous day’s sell-off. Energy, technology and consumer discretionary stocks all rose. After being up by 131 points, the Dow Jones ended up by 30 points or 0.1%. The S&P 500 index lifted by 0.2% and the Nasdaq rose by almost 30 points or 0.4%. European sharemarkets were mixed on Tuesday. Basic resources and oil stocks rose with technology, while autos eased. Investors continue to monitor trade tensions in US, China and Europe. The STOXX600 index ended flat. The German Dax fell by 0.3% while the UK FTSE index rose by 0.4%.
ASX 200 Energy stocks were the leading advancers over the morning helped by higher oil prices, which rose as much as 4% overnight. The higher prices reflect the pressure the Trump Administration is applying to European countries in an effort to halt imports of Iranian crude from November, potentially leading to tighter supply conditions.
Shares in McMillian Shakespeare Limited (MMS) eased 13 cents or 0.8% to $16.43 after releasing an update after market close on Tuesday. MMS, which provides financial services, including leasing and fleet & asset management, said it will exit its Money Now point of sale motor vehicle consumer finance business. The group highlighted an additional impairment of $18-24 million after tax, in relation to the restructure of the Retail Financial Services segment. Earlier guidance was held with the confirmation that MMS expects a full year underlying net profit after tax for the financial year ending 30 June 2018 to be approximately $93.6 million.
Nanosonics (NAN) shares were flat at $3.30 after the company announced it had received European regulatory approval for its trophon 2 device, which sterilises ultrasound sound equipment. The European greenlight follows regulatory approvals in the USA and Canada for the 2nd generation trophon system. The newly CE-marked trophon 2 is planned to launch in Europe in the first quarter of the 2019 financial year, in a similar timeframe to the USA and Canada.
The AUD/USD continued to ease in early Asian trade, surpassing the overnight low of 0.7380. The trend is being driven in part by the threat of more inward looking global trade policies, which represent a downside risk to the global economic growth outlook. A short time ago the local unit was at 73.65 US cents. 
Published by CommSec