The happy week for Aussie shares ended on a sour note today as renewed US-China tensions sent nervous jitters through local and overseas markets.
President Trump said he would be holding a press conference tonight to outline the US’s response to new Chinese sedition laws, which tighten the grip China has over Hong Kong. The US retaliation is expected to include sanctions against Chinese companies
The result was a bleak outlook for Aussie shares this morning. Our benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down by as much as 1.4 per cent by lunchtime, taking some of the shine off an otherwise glowing week.
After teasing a mild recovery, the losses deepened and the index closed 1.6 per cent lower at 5755.70 points. Still, this puts our weekly gain at 4.71 per cent, or 258.7 points.
The financials sector ran out of steam completely today after carrying our share market this week. Today, the sector led the losses as our big four gave back some of their weekly winnings. Westpac lost 6.36 per cent, NAB lost 5.22 per cent, ANZ lost 4.54 per cent, and Commonwealth Bank lost 3.01 per cent.
The real estate sector, which also had a happy week, dragged things further down. It seems our shopping centre stocks fell victim to some end-of-week profit-taking after their strong recovery. Scentre Group declined by 6.3 per cent, and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield by 4.83 per cent. Mirvac and Vicinity Centres lost 1.67 per cent and 1.53 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, our materials sector was one of only four to see green at the end of the day. BHP lost 1.48 per cent and Rio Tinto 0.25 per cent. Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals kept things steady as it gained 2.81 per cent.
Our gold stocks, however, worked hard to keep the sector strong. Northern Star Resources tacked on a healthy 7.64 per cent. Newcrest Mining gained 2.62 per cent, Evolution Mining 4.27 per cent, and Saracen Mineral Holdings 2.2 per cent.
A 1.61 per cent gain from supermarket giant Woolworths kept the consumer staples sector above the water.
Asian markets were mixed once more, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declining for the third session in a row. When the ASX closed for the weekend, the Hang Seng was 0.43 per cent lower and the Asia Dow 0.64 per cent lower. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was green by a modest 0.03 per cent.
The Australian dollar is slightly stronger today, currently buying 66.57 US cents, 53.91 pence, and 11.61 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Junior miner RTG Mining (ASX:RTG) increased in value by two-thirds today after being granted a mining licence for its Mabilo Project in the Philippines. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau approved the expansion of a different RTG project to include the Mabilo Project, and shares quickly doubled. The gains had been slightly pared back by market close, but shares were still up 73.91 per cent at 12 cents each.
Meanwhile, food manufacturer and distributor Freedom Foods (ASX:FNP) flagged a $25 million write-down of its inventory value. The company warned of a material impact on full-year earnings from bad debts and high prices. Shares lost 14.68 per cent and closed worth $3.72 each.