Latest News
The local market is struggling for direction early on Friday with lacklustre trade for the early part of the session. The ASX 200 index is currently 6 points lower or 0.1% at 6173 points after being unchanged for most of the morning. The ASX 200 is also looking at its first weekly decline in a month.
 While most sectors are improving, it is losses in the financial and materials sector that is holding the broader market back. Miners have been the main drag with base metals prices falling by as much as 2.4% overnight although iron ore prices rose 3.6%. BHP Group (BHP) is falling 1.5% while Rio Tinto is faring slightly better, down 0.8%. A sharp fall in gold prices has also weighed on miners of the precious metal. OceanaGold (OGC) is weaker by 3.5% while Northern Star is easing 2.7%.
The Financials sector is being weighed by losses for three of the four major banks. ANZ Bank (ANZ) is leading the losses on the back of a broker downgrade. ANZ shares are 1.5% lower with Commonwealth Bank (CBA) shares also 1.1% softer. Investment manager, Perpetual (PPT) shares are 4% weaker after a surge in its share price and trading volume earlier in the week, climbing ~15% over the first four days of the week. PPT has responded to a request from the ASX saying it is unaware of any reasons for the spike.
In company news, CIMIC Group (CIM) is climbing 2.1% after its construction services group UGL, as part of a joint venture, secured a new contract to service Woodside’s (WPL) Karratha gas plant. The new contract is worth approximately $190 million in additional revenue.
 Retail Food Group (RFG) shares continue to slump following the release of yesterday’s parliamentary inquiry into the franchising industry. RFG responded to the report coming out in support of changes to be made to industry but its shares are down another 13.5% after sliding more than 5% yesterday.
 The Aussie Dollar has picked up from lows at the end of local trade yesterday to buy 70.78 US cents with little economic data to drive the AUD.
So far, 0.8b units have been traded worth $1.7b with 501 stocks higher, 379 weaker and 331 unchanged. Published by CommSec