The Australian share market opened lower and continued to sink in early trade. The ABS says retail trade dropped 4 per cent in August month on month. Most of the sectors have lost ground this morning, with energy stocks weighing heaviest on the market. The tech sector however is bucking the trend and continues to advance.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 55 points down or 0.9 per cent lower at 5,818. On the futures market the SPI is 64 points lower.
Local economic news
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released final retail trade figures for the month of August. Retail trade dropped 4 per cent month on month in seasonally adjusted terms, beating the preliminary trade estimate of a 4.2 per cent fall. This follows July’s 3.2 per cent gain. Australian retail turnover rose 7.1 per cent in August 2020 compared with August 2019.
Shares in regenerative medicine darling Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) tumbled around 40 per cent this morning after news that the US FDA approval for its lead drug candidate was not going to be the smooth sailing investors had hoped for. The US Food and Drug Administration has ordered another randomised, controlled clinical study to support the effectiveness of the company’s remestemcel-L drug in treating pediatric patients with severe acute-Graft Versus Host Disease. This follows a bullish rally earlier in the year of around 144 per cent, as investors responded to promising signs of an easy approval process following a 9 to 1 vote in favour of the drug by an oncologic advisory committee to the FDA. Mesoblast continues to trial the same drug for the treatment of patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by Covid 19. Shares in Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) are 34.5 per cent lower at $3.33.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Information Technology, adding 1.3 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Energy, shedding 2.6 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Janus Henderson Group (ASX:JHG), rising 10.1 per cent to $32.99, followed by shares in EML Payments (ASX:EML) and Zip Co (ASX:Z1P).
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Mesoblast (ASX:MSB),dropping 34.5 per cent to $3.33, followed by shares in Oil Search (ASX:OSH) and Healius (ASX:HLS).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,897 an ounce.
The iron ore price is steady at US$123.47.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.65 US cents.