Australian Market Notably Lower


The Australian stock market is notably lower on Monday following another sell-off on Wall Street Friday amid concerns of a full-blown trade war between the U.S. and China.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 116.50 points or 1.96 percent to 5,820.70, off a low of 5,808.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 114.20 points or 1.89 percent to 5,929.00.

The major miners are weak after a fall in the prices of iron ore and industrial metals. BHP Billiton is losing almost 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is lower by 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.3 percent.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank - are also lower in a range of 0.4 percent to almost 1 percent.

The incoming CEO of Commonwealth bank, Matt Comyn, said he has already started to look for replacements for three senior executives set to depart this year.

AMP said that CEO Craig Meller will step down at the end of this year and a search for his successor will include internal and external candidates. The banking and wealth manager's shares are losing almost 2 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are gaining after gold prices surged to a one-month high on Friday. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are rising almost 2 percent each.

Oil stocks are rising after crude oil prices hit their highest level since late January on Friday. Santos is advancing more than 1 percent, Oil Search is up 0.4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.2 percent.

Harvey Norman's troubled joint venture Victorian dairy company, Coomboona Holdings, has been placed in receivership and administrators appointed. The furniture and electronics retailer's shares are down almost 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7713, up from US$0.7709 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower in a volatile session on Friday as lingering trade war concerns weighed on the markets after China said it would impose tariffs on up to $3 billion worth of U.S. goods in retaliation for the tariffs announced by President Donald Trump. Traders were also digesting a mixed batch of U.S. economic data, with separate reports from the Commerce Department showing a jump in durable goods orders but a drop in new home sales.

The Dow tumbled 424.69 points or 1.8 percent to 23,533.20, the Nasdaq plunged 174.01 points or 2.4 percent to 6,992.67 and the S&P 500 slumped 55.43 points or 2.1 percent to 2,588.26.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose on Friday after Saudi Arabia said output cuts would be extended into 2019. May WTI crude gained $1.58 or 2.5 percent to $65.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.