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Aussie stocks are softer for a fourth day, with the ASX 200 index down 0.3 per cent due largely to falls from the major banks. The big four are slumping by as much as 1.4 per cent ahead of this afternoon’s RBA Board meeting.
Suncorp (SUN) confirmed the sale of its Life Insurance business for $725m this morning. The Queensland based financial services group intends to return around $600m of the proceeds to shareholders.
Energy stocks are coming under pressure despite a slight lift in oil prices overnight. Over the past 24 hours the sector has been receiving attention in Canberra from both sides of politics. Caltex (CTX) is down 2 per cent, Santos (STO) is losing 1.5 per cent, Oil Search (OSH) is shedding 1 per cent and Woodside (WPL) is easing by 0.6 per cent. (KGN) is slumping 7 per cent on news its founders have sold $40m worth of shares in the retailer.
Following the August profit reporting season, many Australian companies will start paying dividends to shareholders. A number of stocks are trading ex-dividend (key date that determines eligibility) including Whitehaven Coal (WHC), St Barbara Mines (SBM), Spark Infrastructure (SKI), Nine Entertainment (NEC) and Boral (BLD).
Nufarm (NUF) is lifting by 4 per cent after a court in Brazil overturned a suspension of glyphosate sales (a herbicide).
Telcos are lifting most as a sector, with the ASX 200 Telecommunications index improving by 0.8 per cent. Telstra (TLS) is up 0.8 per cent while Hutchison (part owner of Vodafone Australia) is jumping by 7.5 per cent. TPG Telecom (TPM) shares are easing, however have surged by around 40 per cent in two weeks on news it agreed to merge with Vodafone Australia.
The Reserve Bank is widely expected to keep the cash rate on hold for a 23rd consecutive meeting at 2.30pm AEST. The accompanying one-page statement will receive attention in light of the recent out-of-cycle rate hikes by some banks. Data on government finance and balance of payments was released and will plug into tomorrow’s GDP read. Net exports are expected to contribute 0.1 percentage points to growth while government spending rose by 0.8 per cent between April – June. Market consensus is for a lift of 0.8 per cent in quarterly growth tomorrow at 11.30am AEST.
1.3bn shares have changed hands on Tuesday worth $2bn. 471 stocks are up, 535 down and 374 are unchanged.
Published by CommSec