Australian stocks closed lower as the major banks continued their slide.
The ASX200 couldn’t find any momentum after falling almost 1% yesterday, as the Financials index slumped by another 0.74% today.
Among the majors, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ were all down more than 1%.
NAB’s net profit rose but it booked a higher provision for doubtful debts and it finished the day down 0.77%.
Falls in the big banks were offset by regional player Suncorp rising by 0.99%.
Fortescue was hammered, losing 4.79% as iron ore futures crashed in the midday trading session. Rio finished more than 2% while BHP traded flat.
Here’s today’s top stories:
1. All hands on deck at the palace: Staff were summoned to an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace, but no details have emerged as to why.
2. Global forces could combine to drive the Aussie dollar lower this year: While the AUD has showed resilience of late, higher US bond yields and falling commodity prices may pose a threat to its current level above US70 cents.
3. Iron ore futures got hammered today: After steadying over the last week in the high-$60 range, spot prices for iron ore are almost certain to fall tonight as futures hit their Limit Down in today’s session and closed 7.97% lower.
4. Treasurer Scott Morrison said that a move to take BHP off the ASX would be against the law: As executives from activist investor Elliot Management float the idea of removing BHP’s dual-listing in Australia and the UK, Morrison said that any move to scrap BHP’s ASX listing would be a crime and if BHP Directors proceeded they could face legal action.
5. Australia’s trade surplus fell in March: A sharp spike in imports drove Australia’s trade surplus lower in March. Analysts said that the surprise fall may prove to be a drag on Q1 GDP growth.
6. RBA Governor Philip Lowe highlighted risks around lower consumption: In a speech in Queensland today, Lowe said that rampant house price growth (and the associated pike on household debt), combined with sluggish income growth meant that the Australian economy is more vulnerable to future shocks as consumers move to pay down debt and reduce spending.
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