More losses for ASX as trade hopes dim
The Australian share market slumped for a second day, with losses across the board as passage of a US-China trade deal appears less and less likely anytime soon.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Thursday closed down 49.5 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 6,672.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 50.6 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 6,777.7 points.
"It's all about the US-China trade relations," said Burman Investments portfolio manager Julia Lee.
"It does not look like the US and China are likely to reach a trade deal this year, and that has implications not just for the global economy but us here in Australia."
Sectors that are exposed to the global economy were down the most, Ms Lee noted, with the export-oriented mining and health care sectors dipping 1.0 per cent and tech stocks down 1.3 per cent.
The losses came on top of Wednesday's 92-point drop, with the 141-point drop over two day the index's worst two-day performance since a 252-point loss on October 2-3.
Westpac was the biggest drag on the market, falling 2.0 per cent to $25.16 after Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged the bank to consider chief executive Brian Hartzer's position over the bank's money laundering and child exploitation scandal.
Among the other three big banks, NAB dropped 0.3 per cent to $26.33, ANZ was down 0.4 per cent to $24.81 and Commonwealth fell 0.3 per cent to $79.33.
In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP dropped 1.4 per cent to $36.73, Fortescue Metals was down 1.8 per cent to $9.14 and Rio Tinto dipped 1.2 per cent to $93.30.
Bluescope Steel bucked the trend, gaining 2.0 per cent to $14.25 after executives confirmed at the steelmaker's annual general meeting in Brisbane that it was on track to earn $499 million in the second half.
In the health care sector, CSL fell 1.2 per cent to $267 and Ramsay Health Care dropped 1.1 per cent to $71.58, although Cochlear rose 0.3 per cent to $222.62.
It was a difficult day for biotech stocks, with burn and wound care company Polynovo, eye disease treatment company Opthea, regenerative medicine company Avita Medical and osteoarthritis drug company Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals all down between 4.6 and 7.7 per cent.
But personal injury law firm Shine Corporate gained 9.6 per cent to a more than one-year high of 97 cents after its clients won a class action in Australian Federal Court against Johnson & Johnson over vaginal mesh implants.
Starpharma was flat at $1.32 after its condom, with a gel that kills certain STDs, received marketing approval in Europe.
Among tech stocks, Afterpay dropped 3.5 per cent, Xero dropped 1.2 per cent and cloud computing company rhipe dropped 11.3 per cent after a trading update at its annual general meeting.
Gaming company Aristocrat Leisure was up 1.5 per cent to $34.22, gaining for a second day after lifting full-year profit 29 per cent.
The defensive plays of consumer staples and property stocks lost the least, with both sectors down 0.2 per cent.
The Aussie dollar is buying 67.97 US cents from 67.98 US cents on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 49.5 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 6672.9 points
* The All Ordinaries closed down 50.6 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 6,777.7 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed down 45, or 0.67 per cent, to 6,672.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT
One Australian dollar buys:
* 67.99 US cents, from 68.15 US cents on Wednesday
* 73.80 Japanese yen, from 73.95 yen
* 61.38 euro cents, from 61.55 cents
* 52.58 British pence, from 52.80 pence
* 105.97 NZ cents, from 106.14 cents.
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