AUSTRALIAN STOCKS FALL, BANKS GET HOSED: Here's what you need to know

Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Australian stocks fell for the fifth time in six sessions with the largest banks leading losses.

Today’s scoreboard:
ASX 200: 5,840 -31 (-0.53%)
All Ordinaries: 5,875 -23 (-0.4%)
AUD/USD: 0.7339 -0.0049 (-0.66%)

The local market has lost 1.4% so far this month.

Australia’s major banks, which make up a quarter of the benchmark index weighting, slumped. CBA, ANZ, NAB and Westpac lost a combined $10.7 billion in market value.

The banks look like they will end up on the losing side of the budget tonight with one strategist from the Coalition saying “the banks will be furious.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison announced yesterday that he had asked the Productivity Commission to review competition in the banking sector. Last night Sky News Business reported on plans to impose a levy on institutional inter-bank lending between the big four.

Harvey Norman dropped 3.5% to $4.13, and JB Hi-Fi fell 4.5% $23.94 as retail data missed by a mile.

Fortescue fell 0.4% to $4.87 as iron ore continued its descent. Spot prices now threatening to break through $US60 a tonne.

The ASX200 Energy Index jumped by 1%, with Woodside (+0.8) and Origin (+2.5%) both gaining from recovering oil prices.

The top stories:
The Commonwealth Bank is heading to a full-year record profit. Australia’s biggest lender released unaudited results for the third quarter, showing cash earnings of approximately $2.4 billion.

Here’s a quick reminder that the budget billions come mainly from your pay packet

Australian retail sales fell for the second straight month in March, sliding by 0.1% in seasonally-adjusted terms. Not only did retail sales fall again, they missed the consensus forecast of 0.3% growth by a wide margin.

James Packer’s Crown Resorts has ended its 12-year adventure in Macau, selling the remainder of its stake in Melco Crown Entertainment for $1.34 billion.

Plutus Payroll, which hasn’t been able to pay out wages to thousands of tech contractors due to the Australian Taxation Office freezing its accounts, dramatically changed its stance towards the government agency on Monday night. After calling the ATO’s actions “draconian”, “unfair”, “aggressive” and “extraordinary” on Friday night, the company changed its tone on Monday after it started legal action in the Federal Court and continued negotiations to have the funds released.

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