After doing little on Monday and Tuesday, the local market is recording its biggest daily slump since 7 August. The most significant driver is the tension in Syria. The potential for a US led military strike has been pushing gold and oil prices higher, while equities have been punished.
A woman walks past a screen showing market indices in Tokyo, on 22 August.
The All Ordinaries (XAO) is down 1.1 per cent and has slipped back below 5100pts. Last night, American shares recorded their biggest falls since the middle of the month, Germany's DAX had its worst day since 5 July and French shares recorded the most substantial slide since 20 June.
Risk is certainly out of favour today, with the mining sector down 1.6 per cent. BHP Billiton (BHP) is 1.7 per cent lower, while the smaller Rio Tinto (RIO) is down 2.3 per cent. The price of gold rallied to around US$1418/oz overnight (highest level since mid-May) while oil cracked through US$110.5 resistance overnight.
The major banks are down by as much as 1.5 per cent, which is not helping the broader market at lunch.
Week four of the profit reporting season is continuing, with both Woolworths (WOW) and AGL Energy (AGK) issuing FY13 (annual profit). WOW's result was driven by a solid year from its core supermarket unit. Net profit jumped by close to 25 per cent to $2.26 billion (largely in line with consensus). Revenue rose to $58.6 billion and a $1.33 dividend was announced. AGL issued a 24.1 per cent rise in FY13 profit to $598.3 million. Revenue improved by 30.3 per cent and a 63cps (100% franked dividend) was declared. WOW is up slightly while AGK is 2.8 per cent higher.
On the economic front, construction work done over the three months to June slipped by 0.3 per cent. This result plugs straight into next Wednesday's GDP reading. Growth is sure to be used at length on the political stage leading into Saturday's federal election.
At lunch, 952 million shares changed hands, worth $1.8 billion. 243 stocks are higher, 507 are lower and 286 are unchanged.
The Australian dollar remains under US90c and buys US89.6 cents. The Middle Eastern concerns supporting the greenback.
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