Tech stocks led a morning retreat on the ASX as disappointing consumer confidence data compounded weak leads from Wall Street.
The S&P/ASX 200 fell 23 points or 0.4 per cent by mid-session, erasing almost half of yesterday's 58-point rally.
Consumer confidence deteriorated for a third week as optimism over the economic outlook was dented by the Melbourne lockdown. The ANZ-Roy Morgan measure of confidence dipped 0.5 per cent, extending its decline since its mid-June recovery peak to around 6 per cent.
By contrast, business confidence picked up last month as trading conditions improved. The market came off its session low after NAB's confidence gauge turned positive for the first time since November, edging up to +1 from a May reading of -20. Trading conditions remained challenging, but improved to -7 from -24. The survey predated the second Victorian lockdown.
Much of the morning's action mirrored events on Wall Street, where the tech leaders that have spearheaded the US's recovery from the March pandemic lows suffered a sharp setback. The Nasdaq swung from a 1.95 per cent rise to a loss of 2.13 per cent as Facebook, Amazon and Tesla gave up their gains. The broader S&P 500 lost 0.94 per cent. The Dow clung to a gain of 0.04 per cent.
The Australian tech sector has doubled in value since March and hit an all-time high on Friday, but there was no hiding place this morning for the market leaders as the sector fell 3.6 per cent. Afterpay sank 7.1 per cent, Xero 3.9 per cent, Appen 3 8 per cent and Nearmap 4.7 per cent. Payment companies came in for particularly harsh treatment. Pushpay Holdings fell 9.6 per cent, Sezzle 8.5 per cent and Z1P 5.5 per cent.
The real estate and consumer staples sectors turned positive as the morning wore on. Lendlease put on 3.7 per cent, SCA Property Group 1.8 per cent and Charter Hall Retail 1.5 per cent. Rises of 3.2 per cent in Treasury Wine Estates and 1 per cent in Elders helped offset a 0.1 per cent dip in Woolworths.
A sharp fall in gold this morning weighed on miners. Gold was lately down $14.40 or 0.8 per cent at $US1,799.70 an ounce in electronic trade. Perseus Mining shed 4.7 per cent, Silver Lake Resources 4 per cent and Newcrest 2.7 per cent.
Westpac and ANZ led a mild retreat in the banking sector, falling 0.4 per cent.CBA and NAB both shed 0.3 per cent.
Fortescue rose 0.1 per cent to a new record after iron ore broke above US$110 a tonne. Rio Tinto edged up 0.3 per cent. BHP eased 0.5 per cent. The spot price for iron ore landed in China jumped $4.80 or 4.5 per cent yesterday to US$111.85 a dry ton.
Asian markets retreated following the release of Chinese trade data. China's Shanghai Composite fell 1.2 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng 1.9 per cent and Japan's Nikkei 0.8 per cent. S&P 500 index futures were recently up three points or 0.1 per cent.
Oil extended overnight weakness. Brent crude dropped 87 cents or 2 per cent this morning to $US41.85 a barrel.
The dollar dipped 0.12 per cent to 69.31 US cents.
What's hot today and what's not:
Hot today: The arrival of wealthy tech entrepreneur Bevan Slattery on the share register lifted geospatial tech firm Pointerra (ASX:3DP) to its highest level in more than two years. Slattery has been behind a number of Australian IT success stories, including iSeek, PIPE Networks, Megaport and Superloop, and once appeared on a list of wealthy Australians under 40. His family investment vehicle will pump $2.5 million into Pointerra through a placement of 50 million shares at five cents, a modest discount to the last traded price of 5.4 cents. Slattery saw an immediate return as the share price surged to 9.5 cents, a gain of 75.9 per cent.
Not today: Retail shareholders jammed the exit door after travel payments company Mint Payments announced it had applied to delist from the ASX. The company listed several reasons for exiting the bourse, including poor liquidity, share-price volatility, lack of retail investor support, the cost of maintaining the listing and the failure of the share price to reflect what the directors believe is the true value of the business. Several shareholders voted with their feet, sending the share price down 30 per cent.