Australian Market Edges Higher

(RTTNews) - The Australian stock market is edging higher on Monday in choppy trading despite the record closing highs on Wall Street Friday, as investors digested the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on corporate earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 1.30 points or 0.02 percent to 6,112.50, after touching a low of 6,094.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 9.30 points or 0.15 percent to 6,280.00. Australian stocks closed marginally lower on Friday.

The major miners are mostly lower. Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent, while Rio Tinto is declining 0.4 percent and BHP Group is down 0.3 percent.

Rio Tinto said it will cut the short-term bonuses of its chief executive Jean-Sebastian Jacques and two other senior executives by about $3.7 million in total in 2020, following a review of the company's destruction of two historically significant caves in Australia.

Meanwhile, Fortescue Metals reported a 49 percent surge in full-year profit to $4.7 billion and said it expects to achieve net zero emissions from its operations by 2040.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank is lower by more than 1 perrcent, while Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are down in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.7 percent.

AMP said that David Murray has resigned as the company's chairman while executives John Fraser and Boe Pahari have also stepped down from their current roles after AMP's major shareholders raised accountability concerns following a sexual harassment complaint against Pahari. Shares of AMP are advancing more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices declined on Friday. Woodside Petroleum is losing more than 2 percent, Oil Search is lower by more than 1 percent and Santos is down 0.6 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower on Friday. Evolution Mining is unchanged and Newcrest Mining is declining 0.7 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks closed at record highs on Friday following the release of a report from IHS Markit showing U.S. business activity expanded at the fastest pace in over a year in the month of August. Adding to the positive sentiment, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing existing home sales in the U.S. continued to soar in the month of July.

The Dow advanced 190.60 points or 0.7 percent to 27,930.33, the Nasdaq climbed 46.85 points or 0.4 percent to 11,311.80 and the S&P 500 rose 11.65 points or 0.3 percent to 3,397.16.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices tumbled on Friday as the latest Euro zone flash purchasing managers' index for August dented hopes of a V-shaped recovery from the bloc's deepest economic downturn on record. WTI crude futures declined $0.48 or 1.12 percent at $42.34 a barrel.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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