The Australian share market dived at the open, falling for the second day in row on the back of Wall Street’s negative leads on fears higher interest rates could dampen markets. The Dow lost over 360 points with US stocks seeing their biggest blow since August.
At noon the S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.2 per cent or 11 points with most of the sectors in negative territory with energy dragging the chain after the oil price dipped. On the futures market the SPI is 5 points lower.
Along with energy stocks, mining companies are also trading below the line after the US dollar strengthened putting pressure on commodity prices. The likes of Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), is over 1 per cent lower, while Fortescue Metals’ (ASX:FMG) losses are not that far behind.
Leading the ASX claw back, is the property sector, telcos, health stocks and utilities with Sirtex Medical (ASX:SRX) rising 45 per cent after the biotech company agreed to a $1.6 billion takeover offer from the United States giant Varian Medical Systems.
Local economic news
The inflation rate creeped higher to 1.9 per cent year-on-year in the December quarter, having grown 1.8 per cent year-on-year in the prior quarter. What can we take away from this? Prices are rising with petrol rising the most, followed by a rise in fruit and then tobacco. But CPI rose less than the market consensus of a 2.0 per cent lift.
Energy generator Infigen Energy (ASX:IFN) reported a two per cent jump in its 2018 half financial year revenue, while its production generated and sold fell slightly compared to the half year of 2017. The results were also unaudited. Infigen Energy shares are trading 1.2 per cent higher at $0.63
QBE Insurance (ASX:QBE) has had their financial strength rating affirmed by ratings house S&P, while its outlook was downgraded from positive to stable. It comes as QBE had a challenging year with payouts on catastrophic claims, but in 2018 and 2019 earnings are expected to rebound. QBE shares are trading 0.7 per cent lower at $10.79.
Virgin Australia (ASX:VAH) has appointed Hong Kong Airlines International’s joint board chairman Zhang Kui to its board as a director. Zhang replaces an outgoing non-executive director (Nang Qi) who stepped down today. The incoming non-exec director also worked as a executive chairman and president of Hong Kong Airlines International. Shares in Virgin are trading 1.9 per cent lower at $0.27.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is reits adding 0.8 per cent to 1,344 points while the worst performing sector is energy, shedding 1.5 cent to 10,775 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Sirtex Medical (ASX:SRX), rising 45.7 per cent at $27.44, followed by shares in Ansell (ASX:ANN) and Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (ASX:API).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Beach Energy (ASX:BPT), slide 5.5 per cent lower at $1.28, followed by shares in Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) and Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR).
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,339 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 80.66US cents.
Bitcoin has fallen 12 cent to $9,911.
Ethereum fallen about 10 per cent to $1,054
And Tether has fallen 0.3 per cent to 99.63 cents