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Local shares are falling for a third straight session with the ASX 200 losing 50 points or 0.86% to 5854 heading towards lunch. This follows a mixed session on Wall Street overnight where the S&P 500 fell for a fourth straight session but the tech heavy Nasdaq lifted.
Losses are outweighing the gains with most sectors in the red. Only the tech and retail discretionary sectors are in positive territory with a near 7% rebound in Flight Centre (FLT) and 2% gain for Dominos Pizza (DMP) is lifting discretionary names.
Losses are being most heavily felt among energy, utilities & healthcare. With heavyweight financials and materials also driving the market lower. Health Company CSL Ltd (CSL) is the largest single drag on the market as it falls 2% while the big four banks are all declining around the 1% mark. Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is performing slightly better as it confirmed the sale of its 80% stake in an Indonesian life insurance business for $426 million and expects to make a post-tax profit of $140 million on the sale.
Energy stocks have seen some heavier falls despite a modest rise in crude oil prices. Although Saudi Arabia did announce it had capacity to raise output by roughly 1 million barrels per day on current levels. Meanwhile utilities are weighed by a near 3% slide in AGL Energy (AGL).
Communications firm WPP AUNZ (WPP) is slumping 33% after announcing it is unlikely to hit its full year earnings growth guidance following weaker than expected trade in August and September. It was also announced that CEO Mike Connaghan would step down at the end of 2018.
Private healthcare operator, Healthscope (HSO) is surging 20% after receiving a renewed bid of $2.36/share from a private equity consortium, which values the company at $4.1 billion. HSO stated it is substantially the same offer that was previously rejected in May.
Real Estate Agency McGrath (MEA) is dipping 4.5% on a $1.9 million earnings (EBITDA) loss for the September quarter. Softer housing conditions in major markets such as Sydney and Brisbane has negatively impacted business.
The Aussie dollar was weakened to US70.67c. So far, 1.2B units have traded worth $1.8B with 386 stocks higher, 547 lower and 356 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec