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ASX Today: ASX caps off worst week since GFC with more losses

The first big week of corporate earnings looks set for an opening bump after US stocks inched higher and President Donald Trump tried to ram through a stimulus package.

ASX SPI200 index futures jumped 42 points or 0.7 per cent, indicating the S&P/ASX 200 should reverse Friday's 37-point slump at today's open. The market put on 1.3 per cent last week despite Friday's limp finish.

The domestic reporting season cranks into gear this week with full- or half-year earnings due from the likes of Commonwealth Bank, AMP, Telstra, Woodside Petroleum and Newcrest.

Property group GPT and rail freight operator Aurizon report today. Fund manger Challenger and Shopping Centres Australasia release full-year earnings tomorrow. Highlights over the rest of the week include CBA, Computershare, Transurban, SEEK, Downer EDI and Magellan on Wednesday; AMP, Telstra, AGL, Woodside and QBE on Thursday; and Newcrest and Iluka on Friday.

US stocks finished mixed on Friday as negotiations forĀ  new stimulus package broke down and the White House moved to ban Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat. The S&P 500 edged up two points or 0.06 per cent, extending its winning streak into a sixth session. The Dow gained 47 points or 0.17 per cent. The Nasdaq broke a seven-session win run with a loss of 97 points or 0.87 per cent.

Hopes for a new coronavirus relief package appeared to crumble when the White House and Congressional Democrats failed to reach terms before Friday's self-imposed deadline. President Trump took matters into his own hands over the weekend by signing an executive order and three memoranda ostensibly deferring payroll taxes and student loan payments, reinstating temporary unemployment benefits at a reduced level and freezing rent evictions.

However, some legal experts questioned whether the president had exceeded his legal authority in bypassing Congress. Former Secretary of State and presidential election rival Hillary Clinton called the move a "stunt". Democrats were expected to launch a legal challenge.

The US technology sector sank 1.6 per cent, dragging the Nasdaq lower, after Trump issued a sweeping ban on transactions with the owners of TikTok and WeChat. The executive orders, which take effect in 45 days, appeared intended to block the popular apps from app stores, effectively removing them from the US market.

US tech giants declined amid fear of retaliation from China. Apple fell 2.3 per cent, Amazon 1.8 per cent and Microsoft 1.8 per cent.

Unemployment queues shortened more than expected in July, according to Labor Department data. The economy gained 1.763 million jobs, ahead of expectations for a rise of around 1.4 million. The jobless rate eased to 10.2 per cent.

Overseas trade in Australia's mining giants was subdued as iron ore and industrial metals were depressed by fears of Chinese retaliation to the White House's ban on TikTok and WeChat. BHP's US-listed stock dropped 1.67 per cent and its UK-listed stock 0.85 per cent. Rio Tinto shed 2.42 per cent in the US and 1.07 per cent in the UK.

The spot price for iron ore landed in China retreated $2.55 or 2.1 per cent to US$118.85 a dry ton. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange slid 2.7 per cent to US$6,308 a tonne. Aluminium fell 0.4 per cent, nickel 0.7 per cent, lead 2.7 per cent, zinc 0.3 per cent and tin 0.5 per cent.

Gold broke a five-session winning run. Gold for December delivery settled $41.40 or 2 per cent lower at US$2,028 an ounce, but still managed a weekly tally of 2.1 per cent. Friday's setback came as the US dollar was boosted by stronger-than-expected jobs data.

Tensions between the US and China helped drive oil lower. Brent crude settled 69 cents or 1.5 per cent weaker at US$44.40 a barrel.

The dollar opened barely changed this morning, lately up 0.01 per cent at 71.58 US cents.


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