ASX closes under after banks thwart morning spike

Despite Wall Street's fresh records setting the ASX up for success overnight, the Aussie market's prospective run was capsized by mid-morning trade.

The ASX 200 surpassed its all-time-high close in early morning trade but toppled on the news of new developments in the Westpac money laundering scandal. After dancing between red and green thereafter, the index couldn't quite lift its head back up and closed 0.035 per cent down at 6847.30 points.

Our resources stocks did their best to carry the market today in the overflow of the imminent US-China trade deal announced over the weekend.

BHP and Rio Tinto continued a week of gains to rise 0.53 and 1.49 per cent, respectively.

Fortescue Metals continued to charge forward on its own mission, increasing for its seventh consecutive session and closing 0.19 per cent up.

However, banking stocks nullified the best efforts of the mining giants as the finance sector was painted red.

Westpac sunk a heavy 0.85 per cent after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority told the bank it needs to put aside an extra $500 million to increase its operational risk profile. The bank's shares closed at $24.64 each.

As for the rest of the big four, NAB dipped 0.2 per cent, ANZ close behind with a 0.12 per cent drop, while Commonwealth Bank outperformed the sector and gained a slight 0.54 per cent. Even Virgin Money UK — which gained 17 per cent in just two days after the UK election — shaved off all of yesterday's gains and closed in a 6.34 per cent slump.

The technology sector followed finance's footsteps as three of the four biggest stocks in the industry each posted a loss.

WiseTech continued its downward spiral with a 2.42 per cent loss, Computershare just fell under and dropped 0.058 per cent, and AfterPay lost 1.61 per cent.

The consumer sectors we mixed: Woolworths dropped 0.24 per cent while Coles gained 0.59 per cent, Synlait Milk dropped 0.12 per cent as The A2 Milk Company gained 0.41 per cent, and Wesfarmers rose 0.072 per cent while Aristocrat Leisure dropped 0.20 per cent.

Asian markets were green all day, bar the Singapore Exchange which was 0.12 per cent down when the Aussie market closed. Japan's Nikkei 225 tacked on 108.58 points or 0.45 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 347.33 points or 1.26 per cent.

The Aussie dollar dipped slightly today, currently buying 68.69 US cents, 51.65 pence, and 0.21 Kuwaiti dinar.

Today's ups and downs

Small-cap gold explorer Kingston Resources gained over 17 per cent at one point today after returning some strong assay results from its Papa New Guinea Misima Gold Mine. The country is planning some follow-up drilling at the Abi prospect and saw shares close 10.34 per cent up.

Gina Reinhart-backed Lakes Oil lost its Supreme Court appeal to overturn a gas exploration ban today. The company, which is part-owned by the mining magnate, appealed the original ban in October 2018. Lakes management said while the outcome was disappointing, it will "continue to get on with its business. The company's shares have been suspended since late September but last closed at 0.1 cents each.


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