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Australia Market falls as hopes for U.S. stimulus fade

Capital Market 

The Australian share market finished session lower on Tuesday, 20 October 2020, as investors succumbed to profit taking on tracking fall in Wall Street overnight on concerns a deal on a coronavirus-related stimulus package to help underpin the virus-hit U. S. economy may not be reached in enough time before the Nov. 3 presidential election. Sentiments were also undermined on fears of an onerous global economic recovery after surging COVID-19 cases in Europe raised the possibility of further restrictions.

At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 44.80 points, or 0.72%, to 6,184.58. The broader All Ordinaries fell 38.77 points, or 0.6%, to 6,396.79.

Overnight, Wall Street's main indexes closed lower as US lawmakers still appeared to struggle to reach an agreement on the coronavirus stimulus. U. S. House Speaker said she hoped that by the end of Tuesday there will be "clarity" on whether a coronavirus stimulus bill can be passed before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Italy approved the shutting of public squares from 9 p.m. and many regions in Spain tightened curbs as COVID-19 cases spiked. Meanwhile, in Britain the government scientific adviser said the country needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown.

Losses were rather widespread across most sectors.

Leading declines was the materials sector despite with financials, healthcare and communications also weighing on the broader market while technology was the sole improver.

Mining giant BHP Group (BHP) was one of the major weights on the market, sliding 1.6% following the release of its September quarter production update. Iron ore production over the quarter lifted 8% to 66Mt on the year before with the miners shipping 74Mt in the period. Guidance for the full year remains unchanged. Rio Tinto (RIO) fell 1.5% but Fortescue Metals (FMG) managed to rise 0.6%.

Financials eased with the big banks in the red. The big four banks were down around 1% with Westpac (WBC) leading falls for the lenders, down 1.4%. This comes as it signed a new arrangement with Afterpay (APT). APT will be able to link its services to WBC's transaction and savings accounts made possible by its new digital banking platform. While WBC shares fell, APT surged as much as 7% to a new record at $105.80 per share. The stock closed 4.5% higher.

CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar fell slightly following the release of Chinese Sept Qtr GDP growth of 4.9%, which was slightly below expectations, and is buying 70.89 US cents.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, October 20 2020. 18:06 IST