Banks down as Westpac (ASX:WBC) is accused of breaching anti-money laundering laws: ASX closed 1.4% lower

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

It has been a negative day of trade for the Australian share market closing 1.4 per cent lower. Banks were hit hard today after Westpac (ASX:WBC) reported that AUSTRAC had applied to the Federal Court for civil penalty orders to be made in relation to anti-money laundering failures – more on this later. All banks fell dragging the market lower. Testing company ALS (ASX:ALQ) shares shot up over 10 per cent today after they exceeded their NPAT guidance by over 5 per cent. As for the sectors today Consumer Discretionary led the day and Financials fell lower.

The S&P/ASX200 index

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 92 points down to finish at 6,722.

Futures market

Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 36..
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a fall of 5 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a dip of 24 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 93 point fall tomorrow morning.

Broker Moves

Citi has upgraded Saracen Minerals (ASX:SAR) to a buy from Neutral, with a 12-month price target of $4.10. The move comes given the likely acquisition of Barrick Gold's 50 per cent stake in the Kalgoorlie Central Gold Mine JV. Shares in Saracen Minerals (ASX:SAR) is down 8.9 per cent to $3.03.

Local economic news

The six month annualised growth rate in the Westpac– Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity lifted from –1.01% in September to –0.91% in October. Despite a slight improvement in the month, the growth rate remains materially below trend.

Company news

Software and services company to the energy, water and communications industries Hansen Technologies (ASX:HSN) has signed a contract with Aurora Energy, for the implementation of HubCX, an energy billing product. It will be cloud-based and delivered under a SaaS model. Owned by the Tasmanian Government, Aurora Energy is the leading energy retailer in Tasmania. Shares in Hansen Technologies (ASX:HSN) are 0.6 per cent higher at $3.42.

Testing company ALS (ASX:ALQ) today announced underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) from continuing operations of $98.2 million for H1 FY20, exceeding the guidance range of $90 million to $95 million provided to the market in July 2019. This is an increase of 5.3 per cent in NPAT compared to the prior corresponding period (pcp).

Westpac Group (ASX:WBC) today received a statement of claim from AUSTRAC, starting civil proceedings in relation to alleged contraventions of Westpac’s obligations under the AntiMoney Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act. Westpac has previously disclosed that it had selfreported a failure to report a large number of international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) to AUSTRAC.

And Webjet (ASX:WEB) is expecting underlying adjusted operating profit in a range of $157 million to $167 million for financial year 2020. This represents growth of approximately 26 per cent to 34 per cent over the previous year.

Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was Consumer Discretionary adding 0.5 per cent while the worst performing sector was Financials, shedding 2.2 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is ALS (ASX:ALQ) rising 12.1 per cent to $9.06, followed by shares in TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE) and Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL)

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX:SAR), dropping 8.9 per cent to $3.03, followed by shares in Austal (ASX:ASB) and Appen (ASX:APX).

Asian markets

Lower: Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.5 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.4 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,474 an ounce.
Iron ore price is flat at US$85.90.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a lift of 0.6 per cent.
Light crude is US$0.10 lower at US$55.25 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 68.14 US cents.

 

Rachael Jones

Finance News Network
Rachael comes to FNN after working for Fairfax Media covering international breaking news, including the global economy and politics. She joined FNN in February 2018. She has reported on Australia’s finance news for various organisations since 2000 and has also interviewed a number of key business players, including Bill Gates. Rachael has also worked across a number of countries, including the UK and the US.