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Aussie shares are a touch higher for a fourth day, with the ASX 200 up 0.25 per cents thanks mostly to the financial sector. The big picture remains little changed however, with the local market down 6.5 per cent in October and on track to have the worst month in three years. It has been due to a mix of higher US interest rates, slumping US stocks, the possibility of further tariffs on China, concerns about growth and tension in Italy.
Commodity prices took a hit last night on concerns that an escalating US-China trade war could hurt demand. US President Donald Trump is reportedly expected to announce tariffs on all remaining imports of Chinese goods in December if trade talks fail. The price of oil and iron ore fell by around 1.5 per cent last night. All large mining stocks are losing ground at lunch.
ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) has kicked off the bank profit reporting season, with its shares up 1.75 per cent as earnings came in ahead of market expectations. Cash profit still fell by 5 per cent to $6,487m due to headwinds from a slowing housing market, costs associated with the Royal Commission and restructure expenses. National Australia Bank (NAB) will post results Thursday, Macquarie (MQG) on Friday and Westpac (WBC) next Monday.
AMP Limited (AMP) is up 4.5 per cent after saying it will return most of the proceeds from the sale of some assets.
Genworth (GMA) is up 1.8 per cent after an optimistic outlook for the year. The provider of lenders mortgage insurance handed down a 39 per cent slump in 3Q due to housing market moderation, tightening credit standards and higher mortgage interest rates.
Healthscope (HSO) is up 0.5 per cent as the hospital operator holds its AGM with investors. A private equity firm has raised its stake in HSO to 19.31 per cent. This is the same group which led a $4.1bn takeover offer for the group last week. HSO shares roseby 20 per cent last Tuesday on the takeover offer.
Health insurer, NIB (NHF) is up 7.5 per cent after raising its profit guidance for FY19 to at least $190m (was previously expecting a minimum of $180m). It attributed the improved outlook to a prolonged benign claims environment in Australia.
Consumer inflation for the three months to September came in a touch lower than expected, lifting by 0.4 per cent and an annual rate of 1.9 per cent. This is likely to make the RBA comfortable in keeping rates on hold for the time being. The Australian dollar fell sharply following the CPI read to US$0.7087.
1.2bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $2.4bn. 557 stocks are up, 423 are down and 330 are flat. 
Published by CommSec