The ASX 200 pared a month of record gains, falling for a second day as a US market holiday depressed buying interest.
The benchmark index eased 37 points or 0.6 per cent by mid-session. The decline pulled the index further from Wednesday's nine-month closing high and shaved a few percentage points off the tally from a remarkable month.
The index has put on 11.3 per cent since November 1, the best monthly return in its 20-year history. The older All Ordinaries has risen 11.1 per cent, a figure last bested in March 1988.
What's driving the market
The market accelerated losses after China upped the ante in its campaign against Australian exports. Chinese state media reported the Ministry of Commerce announced it will slap Australian wine with additional duties of up 212.1 per cent from Saturday.
European markets traded modesty lower after Wall Street, the engine room of the global financial system, shut down for Thanksgiving. The pan-European Stoxx 600 dipped 0.12 per cent as the US break gave traders a chance to draw breath.
"It’s been a relatively quiet market session overnight with the US out celebrating Thanksgiving," NAB Currency Strategist Rodrigo Catril said. "Regional European equity indices closed marginally in the red while US equity futures are mixed."
S&P 500 index futures declined seven points or 0.2 per cent as Covid-19 infection rates continued to make headlines. California and Texas set new daily case records. Germany extended restrictions until December 20. Futures for the Nasdaq Composite - home to most of the 'stay at home' winners from the pandemic - rose 58 points or 0.48 per cent ahead of tonight's truncated US session.
Australian action broadly mirrored yesterday's session: cyclicals down, select defensives up. The energy sector fell 1.9 per cent, financials 0.6 per cent and materials 0.5 per cent. Gold stocks, REITs and communications advanced.
Supply-chain logistics specialist Brambles was the best of the heavyweights of the ASX 20, rising 1.5 per cent. Property group Goodman gained 0.7 per cent. Iron ore major Fortescue put on 0.6 per cent, Telstra 0.2 per cent and Wesfarmers 0.1 per cent.
Bega Cheese surged 9.7 per cent after buying Lion Dairy & Drinks for $534 million. The acquisition includes drinks, yogurts and custards sold under a range of brands, including Dare, Farmers Union, Yoplait and Pura. Bega will fund the purchase with a capital raising.
The gold sub-sector climbed further off six-month lows as confidence increased that a critical support level for the metal will hold. Newcrest advanced 0.8 per cent, Gold Road Resources 2.3 per cent and Silver Lake Resource 1.6 per cent.
Nine of the top ten listed real estate investment trusts moved higher. GPT added 1.3 per cent, Mirvac 1.7 per cent and Charter Hall Group 0.9 per cent. Lendlease fell 0.9 per cent a day after losing its CFO to rival Stockland.
Most of the market behemoths declined. Health giant CSL shed 1.4 per cent, iron ore major BHP 1.2 per cent and oil king Woodside Petroleum 1.8 per cent. The big four banks shed between 0.3 and 1.1 per cent.
Penfolds maker Treasury Wine Estates collapsed 11.3 per cent after Chinese state-run media reported the Ministry of Commerce had concluded Australian exporters dumped wine in the Chinese market. China said it would slap Australian wine imports with temporary anti-dumping measures. Distributor Australian Vintage fell 4 per cent.
Travel agent Helloworld sank 4.9 per cent after warning shareholders it expects to lose money until at least the fourth quarter of this financial year. The company forecast demand will rebound next year but does not expect revenues to regain previous levels until 2023. Rivals Flight Centre and Webjet fell 4.4 and 4.6 per cent, respectively.
Karoon Energy fell 2.9 per cent after the company outlined plans to double production at its Bauna wells to around 30,000 barrels of oil per day.
Asian markets marked time. China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.1 per cent. Japan's Nikkei added 0.3 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.2 per cent.
Brent crude climbed 12 cents or 0.25 per cent to $US47.981 a barrel. Gold was up $3.40 or 0.2 per cent from its last official traded price at $US1,808.90 an ounce.
The dollar edged up 0.03 per cent to 73.59 US cents.
What's hot today and what's not
Hot today: Walkabout Resources (ASX:WKT) jumped 21.4 per cent on news the company was close to securing the funds to develop its African graphite project. The company signed a non-binding, conditional term sheet with the African Export-Import Bank for US$25 million. If approved, the debt facility will be used to develop the Lindi Jumbo Graphite Project in south-east Tanzania.
Not today: DigitalX (ASX:DCC) retreated 8.2 per cent after Bitcoin tumbled more than 15 per cent in 24 hours. The company is used by some investors as the closest thing to a proxy for Bitcoin on the ASX. The cryptocurrency got within $7 of a record before plunging following a rally that had boosted prices by 250 per cent in nine months.