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Aussie shares lost some of the glow from yesterday’s performance as a dip in US futures pulled stocks down.

Despite a strong night on Wall Street and some developments in the States’ coronavirus management, S&P 500 futures were down 0.56 per cent when the ASX closed.

Down under, our benchmark ASX 200 index clawed its way up from the heaviest of its losses to close 0.39 per cent lower at 5466.70 points. Some solace can be taken in the fact that this is the most marginal full-day decline since the COVID-19 terror began in February.

Today’s decline was led by the energy sector, which by market close yesterday had rebounded almost 40 per cent since its mid-March low. Today, a sudden slump in oil prices saw the sector decline 3.05 per cent.

Woodside Petroleum slipped 3.55 per cent, Santos gave up 3.73 per cent, and Oil Search fell four per cent.

Our heavyweight materials stocks declined too, led by Fortescue’s 1.47 per cent decline. BHP lost 0.73 per cent and Rio Tinto lost 1.16 per cent.

Despite some muted gains from three of our big four banks, the financials sector couldn’t escape the red either. Westpac gained 0.12 per cent, NAB gained 0.6 per cent, and ANZ gained 0.42 per cent. However, a 1.08 per cent decline from Commonwealth Bank offset the gains.

QBE Insurance lost 3.51 per cent.

Meanwhile, consumer stocks managed to fight off the losses and both the staples and discretionary sectors ended the day green. While Coles’ 0.8 per cent loss offset a 0.19 per cent gain from Woolworth, the A2 Milk Company steadied the ship as it tacked on 3.55 per cent.

Similarly, while Wesfarmers slipped 0.40 per cent, Aristocrat Leisure and Tabcorp gained 3.94 per cent and 1.35 per cent, respectively.

The ever-volatile tech sector managed to cling to the green too. Afterpay declined a slight 0.83 per cent, but Xero gained 0.61 per cent. Computershare put on 2.21 per cent.

Over east, Asian markets were mixed. When the ASX closing bell sounded, Japan’s Nikkei 225, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, and the Shanghai Composite were each lower by between 0.45 and 0.65 per cent. The Asia Dow, however, was sitting a healthy 1.77 per cent green.

Meanwhile, the Aussie dollar is slightly lower today. Currently, one dollar buys 63.57 US cents, 50.54 pence, and 11.78 South African Rand.

Today’s ups and downs

Hemp grower Australian Primary Hemp (ASX:APH) was up as much as 150 per cent at one stage today after a stellar quarterly report. Record revenue and an 80 per cent boost to online sales over a quarter ravaged by COVID-19 boded well with investors. By market close, shares had lost some of their shine but still sat an impressive 92.86 per cent higher at 14 cents each.

Some companies have been putting on a brave face as COVID-19 spreads but are suddenly chasing some extra funds. engage:BDR (ASX:EN1) is one such company. The digital advertiser said it had seamlessly transitioned to at-home work and felt zero impact to operations as the virus spread. Today, however, the company told shareholders it has filed a business interruptions insurance claim, received funding from the US CARES Payment Protection Program, applied for disaster relief aid, and is seeking an $8 million loan from an Australian bank. Shares in the company declined 12.5 per cent to 1.4 cents each.

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