The Australian share market had a rollercoaster of a day that ended in a marginal loss for the first time this week.
The outlook for the day was bleak in early action after it was revealed in the US that the Trump administration had some serious retaliatory plans against the Chinese government for its latest sedition laws against Hong Kong. Reports began to circulate last night that the US is considering a range of sanctions against China to punish the country for its Hong Kong crackdown.
On the back of the fresh US-China tension, our local ASX 200 index quickly declined over a per cent in the early minutes of trade. However, our financials sector flexed the influence it has on the wider market as our big banks fought off the decline.
In a remarkable reversal, the index was over 50 points higher by mid-afternoon trade. Unfortunately, the win was equally short-lived, and the index closed a marginal 0.09 per cent in the red at 5775 points.
Our finance stocks have lagged behind the recent recovery until today. Mighty gains from our big four pushed the sector to a 5.27 per cent close. ANZ gained 8.6 per cent, Westpac 8.04 per cent, and NAB 7.81 per cent. Commonwealth Bank brought in the rear with a healthy 4.88 per cent gain.
The recently-established retail sector supported the gains as stocks tipped to recover from lifting restrictions had another happy day. Mirvac Group gained 2.54 per cent, Vicinity Centres 1.18 per cent, and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield a hefty 9.02 per cent.
However, our heavyweight materials sector anchored the other sectors’ wins with a 2.84 per cent decline. Iron ore big-shots BHP and Rio Tinto gave up 2.93 per cent and 2.43 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals lost 5.08 per cent.
It was an even sorrier day for our safe haven stocks, however, with our gold producers shaving off chunks of their value. Newcrest Mining lost 7.19 per cent and Evolution Mining lost 8.48 per cent. Northern Star Resources lost 10.92 per cent and Saracen Mineral holdings lost 11.19.
Still, the health care sector was the weakest performer today. Biotech giant CSL led the losses with a 6.38 per cent fall. Cochlear was close behind as it slumped 2.80 per cent.
Asian markets were mixed on news of the US sanctions. When the ASX closed for the day, the Asia Dow was 0.18 per cent lower and the Nikkei 225 0.70 per cent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 0.88 per cent down.
Meanwhile, the Aussie dollar is slightly weaker this afternoon, currently worth 66.45 US cents, 53.88 pence, and 11.61 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Internet provider Spirit Telecom (ASX:ST1) outperformed its sector today after launching its business-to-business “NBN Enterprise Ethernet” product. The product was launched through the company’s Spirit X platform. Allegedly, the platform now has access to two million businesses across Australia compared to the 100,000 it had before. Spirit Telecom shares gained 7.5 per cent today to close worth 22 cents each.
Meanwhile, Core Lithium (ASX:CXO) slumped on news of a nicely-discounted $7 million capital raising plan. The company is planning to raise $5.5 million from a share placement and $1.5 million from a share purchase plan. New shares are priced at 4.25 cents under both deals — almost 30 per cent lower than their last closing price. Shares lost 16.67 per cent today to close worth five cents each.