22 February 2019, Friday  |  
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Market Commentary - Foreign Markets  
Australia Stocks fall on US slowdown fears, Huawei CFO arrest
(09:44, 06 Dec 2018)
Headline indices of the Australian share market declined for third consecutive session on Thursday, 6 December 2018, on tracking a dismal overnight session on Wall Street amid concerns about an economic slowdown in the United States and weakening expectations of a lasting US-China trade truce. Meanwhile selloff intensified after the arrest of the chief financial officer of China tech giant Huawei Technologies Co in Canada and is facing possible extradition to the U.S. for violating sanctions against trading with Iran. Weak Australian GDP data also dampened investor sentiment. Most of ASX sectors declined, with materials and financial stocks being notable losers. In late afternoon trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 37.35 points, or 0.7%, to 5,631 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 37.90 points, or 0.7%, to 5,711.20 points.

Global equity markets have been shaken and the dollar fell this week after an inversion in a part of the U.S. Treasury yield curve triggered market concerns about economic growth. The spread between the two-year and five-year Treasury yields inverted this week and the two-year/10-year spread was at its flattest in more than a decade amid a sharp fall in long-term rates. A flatter curve is seen as an indicator of a slowing economy, with lower longer-dated yields suggesting that the markets see economic weakness ahead.

Investors are looking for progress on trade as well as clues to the future path of economic growth. U.S. President Donald Trump said China is sending “very strong signals” following trade discussions in Argentina, as uncertainty remains over what commitments were made between the two nations. Over the weekend, President Trump agreed to suspend increases in tariffs on Chinese goods for 90 days, after a meeting with Chinese leader Xi at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book economic report showed fading optimism over prospects for growth at U.S. firms even as a majority of districts continued to report a modest expansion in recent weeks.

Shares of materials and resources were mostly lower, with BHP down 2.8% and Rio Tinto down 2%. South32 was in the red too, losing 3.1%, while Fortescue Metals and BlueScope Steel lost 1.1 and 1.5% respectively.

Shares of banks and financial stocks were lower. ANZ lead the losses for the big four banks, down 1.8%, Westpac suffered the least, losing 0.8%, and Macquarie Group was down 1.5%. Bank of Queensland shares are lower after announcing its group executive of business, Brendan White, will leave the company to become the chief executive of Cash Converters.

ECONOMIC NEWS: The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that Australia's gross domestic product was up a seasonally adjusted 0.3% on quarter in the third quarter of 2018, down from 0.9% in the second quarter.

CURRENCY: Australian Dollar, seen as a proxy for China-related trades, was down against greenback on Thursday. The Australian dollar was quoted at 72.46 US cents, down from 72.92 US cents on Wednesday.

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