Wall Street drifts lower, ASX set to dip



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In the energy sector, Woodside and Santos were both winners, closing 1 per cent and 0.7 per cent higher, respectively. Among utilities players, Meridian Energy finished 3.2 per cent higher while AGL closed up 2.2 per cent.

The laggards

Salary packing administrator Smartgroup was among the worst performers, with its shares slumping 6.1 per cent after the company slashed its half-year earnings forecast by 9 per cent, leading Citi analysts to reduce their target price on the stock from $11.55 to $10.45.

Coronado Global Resources shares also closed 5.6 per cent lower.

The lowdown

A handful of retailers saw their shares take a hit after releasing unimpressive trading updates.

Shares in JB Hi-Fi tumbled 4.5 per cent after the electronics retailer posted flat sales for the March quarter.

The company’s chief executive Terry Smart and chief financial officer Nick Wells told the Macquarie conference that consumers were cautious and trading down when purchasing televisions, while sales for mobile phone and audio products are holding up fairly well.

“Customers are looking for value, there’s no doubt on that … and they’re shopping on promotion,” Smart said.

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Shares of Super Retail Group – operator of Rebel sport, Supercheap Auto, BCF and Macpac – tumbled 5.5 per cent after the group reported low single-digit sales increases across its brands, with the exception of Rebel, which saw sales fall by 2 per cent.

Harvey Norman shares also lost 3.8 per cent.

The trading session was a marked contrast from the gains made earlier this week.

“The ASX200 has snapped a five-day winning streak today, emphatically rejecting the 7800 level it pushed above yesterday to erase all its post-RBA rally,” said IG markets analyst Tony Sycamore.

On Wall Street overnight, the S&P 500 Index finished almost unchanged after flipping between modest gains and losses throughout the session.

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The benchmark was coming off a slight gain from Tuesday, which followed a big three-day winning streak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.2 per cent.

Most companies have been reporting stronger profits than analysts expected this US reporting season. That, and newly revived hopes for coming cuts to interest rates by the Federal Reserve, have helped the US stock market to recover from its rough April.

Treasury yields have largely been easing since Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said last week the central bank remains closer to cutting its main interest rate than hiking it, despite a string of stubbornly high readings on inflation this year.

However, the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.49 per cent, from 4.46 per cent late Tuesday. The yield on the two-year Treasury, which moves closer with expectations for action by the Fed, ticked up to 4.84 per cent, from 4.83 per cent.

Tweet of the day

Quote of the day

“We work very constructively with the printers of our newspapers and magazines to ensure the long-term sustainability of our print products, which continue to be profitable. Fortunately, the Financial Review is an incredibly successful digital publication, which has allowed us to make this decision in the best interests of our business.”

That’s Nine’s managing director of publishing Tory Maguire commenting on The Australian Financial Review being forced to stop its physical edition in Perth this month after billionaire Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media abruptly doubled the cost of printing the newspaper for distribution in Western Australia. Nine is the publisher of this masthead.

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Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kraft Heinz, Kellanova and other global food makers have pushed back against allegations of price-gouging, describing supermarkets as the singular gatekeepers of grocery prices.

Procter & Gamble, which sells brands such as Olay, Pantene, Gillette, Venus and Oral B, said Coles and Woolworths accounted for more than 50 per cent of its business, but its products made up less than 1 per cent of the supermarkets’ sales. “Australian retailers set the prices … consumer pricing is at the sole discretion of retailers,” it stated.

AP

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