The local bourse is on track to snap a six week winning streak as a sell-off in bank and energy stocks ramps up. The ASX is currently 2.4 per cent lower at 5817. The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 147 points. Westpac is down almost 5 per cent while ANZ has shed 3.7 per cent. All sectors are in the red going into the third hour of trade. Travel stocks, which had been making up ground earlier this week are plummeting on concerns restrictions may not be eased as soon as thought. Flight Centre is down almost 11 per cent while Webjet has dived 10 per cent.
The declines follow a slump in US, European and Asian markets yesterday after a grim outlook from the Federal Reserve and a rise in US COVID-19 cases as restrictions ease. It’s not all bad news though, TPG is top performer at noon after it announced a special dividend for shareholders if it’s merger with Vodafone goes ahead. Meantime, the Aussie dollar has fallen to a two week low of US68 cents making it the worse performing G10 currency so far today.
Morgan Stanley has downgraded Webjet (ASX:WEB) to underweight from equal-weight, noting it prefers Corporate Travel (ASX:CTD) to the company.The investment bank says since January Corporate Travel has materially outperformed in terms of the share price, yet when valuing the business Webjet's market cap and valuation has increased 30 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively, because of a highly dilutive capital raising. Shares in Webjet (ASX:WEB) are down 6.5 per cent to $3.91.
Westpac (ASX:WBC) is dealing with further issues beyond those covered in the current case against it by Austrac.In a statement this morning, the big four bank noted it had made additional reports to Austrac following the start of Federal Court action last November by the regulator. That case alleged 23 million breaches of the law, the bulk of which the bank has admitted to.The additional threshold transaction reports - that were not reported to Austrac - were disclosed in Westpac’s half-year results. The bank also conducted a “lookback” of files in December, which saw it disclose more suspicious matter reports to Austrac “in relation to potential child exploitation”. Shares in Westpac (ASX:WBC) are trading 5 per cent lower at $17.61.
Best and worst performers
All sectors are currently in the red but the sector with the fewest losses is consumer staples, shedding 0.9 per cent, while the worst performing sector is energy, shedding 4.3 per cent. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is TPG Telecom (ASX:TPM), rising 1.9 per cent to $8.21, followed by shares Spark Infrastructure (ASX:SKI) and Elders (ASX:ELD).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Platinum Asset management (ASX:PTM),dropping 12 per cent to $3.51, followed by shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Southern Cross Media Group (ASX:SXL).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,726 an ounce.
Iron ore price dropped 0.2 per cent to US$103.74.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.3 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 68.17 US cents.