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Monday 20

November, 2017 5:06 AM



Telstra's plunge pulls share market lower

Telstra's plunge pulls share market lower

The Australian share market lost ground in afternoon trade to close lower, as market heavyweight Telstra fell to a five-year low.

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By AAP 17.08.2017 05:19 PM

The Australian share market has fallen slightly, weighed down by a massive sell-off of Telstra shares after the telco said it will cut future dividends.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 5.9 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5,779.2 points, after being around 0.2 per cent higher at midday.

Commsec analyst Steven Daghlian said Telstra and QBE Insurance were the worst performers, while mining, industrial and health care sectors gained ground.

"It was not a terrible day for the market, just a few rogue companies doing big damage," Mr Daghlian said.

Telstra plunged 10.6 per cent, or 46 cents, to a five-year low of $3.87, as it said it will reduce its full year dividends by 29 per cent in the current financial year in order to maintain balance sheet strength as consumers transfer to the NBN.

QBE Insurance dropped 7.1 per cent, or 85 cents, to $11.17 after reporting a lift in half year profit but also noting ongoing challenges in its emerging markets business.

Among the best performers was hearing implant maker Cochlear, which gained 7.2 per cent to $153.02 after lifting its final dividend for the 2016/17 financial year and forecasting further profit growth.

The miners rose due to improved commodities prices, with BHP up one per cent at $25.92, Rio Tinto up 1.4 per cent at $63.61 and Fortescue Metals 0.9 per cent higher at $5.55.

After three days of gains for the banking sector, the big four lenders were relatively steady.

Mr Daghlian said the corporate earnings season so far has provided mixed results.

"The ASX200 briefly cracked the 5,800-mark today, if results do come in better throughout the week that may be the catalyst to the market breaking through those numbers," he said.

The Australian dollar is well above 79 US cents after surging against the greenback overnight as US president Donald Trump disbanded two business advisory councils and doubts were raised about expected rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 dropped 5.9 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5,779.2 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index dropped 3.6 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 5,827.2 points

* The September SPI200 futures contract was down 6 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,740 points.

* National turnover was 3.4 billion securities traded worth $7.7 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 79.47 US cents, from 78.38 US cents on Wednesday

* 87.39 Japanese yen, from 86.84 yen

* 67.55 euro cents, from 66.82 euro cents

* 61.65 British pence, from 60.98 pence

* 108.57 NZ cents, from 108.36 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1200 AEST was $US1,287.78 per fine ounce, up from $US1,269.82 per fine ounce on Wednesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8824pct, from 1.8949pct on Wednesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5914pct, from 2.6122pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* September 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.36 (implying a yield of 2.64pct), from 97.34 (2.66pct) on Wednesday

* September 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.03 (1.97pct), from 98.02 (1.98pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session. Currency closes taken at 1700 AEST previous local session.)

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