The Australian share market opened lower as expected, after the three major indices on Wall Street made losses of 1.2 per cent or more on their Monday session. Investors saw bonds slip, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield hitting its lowest point since 2016, last week. Major bank stocks like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs lost over 2 per cent, we saw Hong Kong protests intensify, and a surprise Argentina election result, all weighing on global markets. All this has boded well for the safe haven commodity, gold, with local stocks like St Barbara (ASX:SBM) gaining 2.3 per cent. However before noon, the benchmark ASX200 re-entered positive territory, but now the S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.3 per cent lower or 20 points down at 6,570. On the futures market the SPI is eyeing a fall of 0.3 per cent.
Putting it into perspective, the benchmark index is now about 4.2 per cent off the all-time high set in late July.
Local economic news
NAB released their business survey for August today showing below average confidence and conditions, there hasn’t been much change since last month. Business momentum was lost in early 2018 and there are no forward looking indicators currently pointing to a change in the near future.
Amid the gold price rally, Westgold Resources (ASX:WGX) has updated its hedge book, also factoring in the sale of it Higginsville Gold Operations (HGO) assets for about $50 million. The gold company’s hedge book now totals 212,500 ounces, at an average price of $1,873 per ounce, over a 23 month tenure. Shares in (Westgold Resources (ASX:WGX) are trading 0.9 per cent lower at $2.26 at noon. Year-on-year WGX trades about 47 per cent higher.
Meantime, another gold major is in the news today, Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX:SAR) after it completed the compulsory acquisition of Bligh Resources (ASX:BGH). SAR snapped up the remaining stake in the company from Zeta Resources (ASX:ZER) received 9 million new shares in Saracen for consideration of its 87 per cent ownership of Bligh.Shares in Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX:SAR) are trading 0.3 per cent lower at $4.46 at noon. Year-on-year SAR is trading 128 per cent higher.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Information technology, adding 0.4 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Healthcare, shedding 1.2 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Challenger (ASX:CGF), rising 6.6 per cent to $6.93, followed by shares in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and St Barbara (ASX:SBM).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Orocobre (ASX:ORE), dropping 6.4 per cent to $2.63, followed by shares in CYBG (ASX:CYB) and Galaxy Resources (ASX:CXY).
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 1.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has shed 1.2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.7 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,518 an ounce.
Iron ore last traded at US$94.12,
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.8 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 67.61 US cents.