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Iron ore producers cushion ASX drops

As Sunday's U.S.-China trade deadline looms, Australian markets continue to move cautiously, today retreating slightly for the first time since Thursday. 

Wall Street slipped while Australia slept, with the Dow Jones sliding 0.38 per cent down to 27,909.60 points. 

TheASX 200 dropped 23.10 points or 0.34 per cent today as Aussie sectors were littered with red. 

Our mining darlings softened the blow on the back of some renewed confidence from Chinese leaders about the future of the iron ore industry. BHP and Rio Tinto outperformed the market with 1.05 per cent and 1.41 per cent gains, respectively. 

Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals continued its healthy run, topping yesterday's 11-year high share price and climbing 1.07 per cent more. The iron ore producer closed with shares worth $10.38 apiece.

Health care almost closed green today but dropped right before the end of the day. Biotech giant CSL recouped some of yesterday's losses to close 0.36 per cent up. Sleep apnoea specialist Fisher and Paykel Healthcare gained 2.77 per cent. 

Finance was a major drag on the market with Commonwealth once again performing best of the big banks, but today closed a slight 0.038 per cent down.

Westpac updated the market on court proceedings from its AUSTRAC woes, claiming the two parties are busy crafting a Statement of Agreed Facts. The case has been adjourned until February. Westpac's shares closed 0.57 per cent down after today's news.

ANZ followed trends and dropped 0.65 per cent, but NAB brought in the hardest of the losses and declined 1.65 per cent.

An underwhelming Annual General Meeting from Bank of Queensland reaffirmed a weakened 2020 outlook, forcing shares down 1.74 per cent.

Retail stocks dipped today with supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles continuing their decline after enjoying all-time highs last week. 

Woolworths teased green during the afternoon session but declined again to close 0.078 per cent down. Coles dipped steadily over the course of the day and closed 0.92 per cent lower than yesterday.

In the world of technology, logistics solution company WiseTech saw a morning spike after buying up South Korean customer solution provider Ready Korea, but the company declined around midday to close 1.33 per cent down. 

The opposite was true for buy-now-pay-later poster boy Afterpay which saw red over the morning session but rose at midday to close 0.17 per cent up.

Asian markets shared similar fate today with the Asia Dow losing 3.02 points in a 0.09 per cent decrease, Japan's Nikkei 225 dropping 0.6 per cent to 23,417.80, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropping 0.04 per cent to 26,480.12.

Back down under, the Australian dollar is currently buying 68.25 U.S. cents, 51.91 pence, and 2.83 Brazilian Real.

Today's ups and downs

Zoono built on yesterday's momentum by landing an exclusive distribution deal in China for its treatment of African Swine Fever (ASF). The contract is expected to earn Zoono $18 million in the next three years. Yesterday, Zoono outlined the success of its ASF treatment, which is a world-first for the disease that has wiped out a quarter of the world's pig population. The company has gained 62.5 per cent since Friday's close.

In other good news, a heavily-oversubscribed float of aerial mapping company Aerometrex has seen shares soar from their $1 initial public offering price to nearly double that at $1.84 when the market closed.

In not-so-good news, Australian Primary Hemp shares shaved off all of yesterday's gains from an exclusive supply agreement with Australian personal care company Freshwater Brands. APH shares lost 15 per cent to close at 17 cents each — the same price as yesterday's open.

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