Australian Market Pares Gains

(RTTNews) - The Australian stock market has pared initial gains after rising on Friday despite the weak cues overnight from Wall Street on worse-than-expected weekly jobless claims data. Investors remained cautious amid the rising number of coronavirus cases worldwide.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 5.50 points or 0.09 percent to 6,016.40, after rising to a high of 6,042.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 3.50 points or 0.06 percent to 6,126.50. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Thursday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is declining more than 1 percent and BHP Group is down 0.6 percent, while Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 1 percent.

Rio Tinto reported a 1.5 percent increase in iron-ore shipments for the second quarter and said it is on track to meet its fiscal 2020 iron ore shipments outlook.

Gold miners are lower after gold prices slipped overnight. Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are lower by more than 1 percent each.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent and Santos is adding 0.6 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is lower by 0.6 percent after crude oil declined more than 1 percent overnight.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent, while Westpac is edging up 0.1 percent.

BlueScope Steel said it now expects earnings for the second half of the year to be about A$260 million. The company had earlier projected earnings for the period of A$302.4 million, but withdrew the guidance in March amid the uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. The steel maker's shares are losing more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6979, compared to $0.6992 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday after a Labor Department report showed that the decline in first-time claims for unemployment benefits nearly ground to a halt last week. The negative sentiment was partly offset by a report from the Commerce Department showing another substantial increase in retail sales in June, although the data was seen as old news as some states roll back their reopening plans due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Dow fell 135.39 points or 0.5 percent to 26,734.71, the Nasdaq slid 76.66 points or 0.7 percent to 10,473.83, and the S&P 500 dipped 10.99 points or 0.3 percent to 3,215.57.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday on worries about the outlook for near-term energy demand and the latest decision by OPEC+ to start tapering production cuts beginning next month. WTI crude for August ended down $0.45 or about 1.1 percent at $40.75 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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