Rio (ASX:RIO) exes depart over Aboriginal sacred site scandal: Aus shares 0.7% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Katrina Bullock

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The Australian share market opened slightly higher but has lost ground during the first half of the session. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 38 points down or 0.7 per cent lower at 5,870. On the futures market the SPI is 46 points lower.

Local economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released annual overseas arrivals and departure figures for the month of July. Overseas visitor arrivals to Australia decreased 34.6 per cent month on month. Australian resident returns from overseas decreased 34.7 per cent month on month.

Broker moves

Credit Suisse rates Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU) as an outperform, with a 12 month price target of $10.00. This comes ahead of the much anticipated spin-off of Iluka Resources' Mining Area C royalties into a separately listed entity called Deterra Royalties on the 23rd of October. Shares in Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU) are trading 3 per cent lower at $9.69.

Company news

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) executives embroiled in the Juukan Gorge blast scandal have fallen on their sword. Three executives resigned “by mutual agreement” after mounting community pressure and a board-led review of the destruction of Aboriginal sacred sites for a mine expansion. Rio Tinto's chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques will be departing, as will Rio’s head of iron ore Chris Salisbury and head of corporate relations Simone Niven. The company previously announced that the executives responsible for the decision would have their bonuses cut, leading to widespread investor concern that the company was not taking the issue seriously. The question now remains – will 3 scapegoats appease the Federal Government’s inquiry into the matter? Or does the issue speak to a deeper cultural crisis that will see more heads roll? Shares in Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) are trading 0.6 per cent lower at $99.83 at noon.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Healthcare, adding 0.5 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Information Technology, shedding 1.7 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), rising 5.03 per cent to $0.89, followed by shares in Pro Medicus (ASX:PME) and McMillan Shakespeare (ASX:MMS).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nearmap (ASX:NEA), dropping 13.3 per cent to $2.50, followed by shares in Perenti Global (ASX:PRN) and EML Payments (ASX:EML).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,946 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 0.4 per cent to US$126.09
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.6 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.74 US cents.