EVENING REPORT (5.30pm AEST)
The Australian share market closed sharply lower on Friday, following a big sell-off on US markets on fears tech stocks are overvalued. The NASDAQ closed lower by almost three per cent in the US on Thursday while the Dow Jones Index was down 267 points or 1.6 per cent.
Our market closed lower by one per cent on Friday, with every sector under heavy selling pressure. The info technology sector was among the worst performing, down 2.5 per cent, on the back of a big sell-off in tech stocks in the US.
In local company news, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCL) delivered a profit warning, announcing it expects 1H earnings to be down 15 per cent on the prior period due to weakness in its Australian operations and higher costs in Indonesia. New group managing director Alison Watkins said CCL is reviewing its assets, cost base and marketing strategies. CCL shares closed down 14.6 per cent to $9.74.
The Bank of Queensland (BOQ) was placed in a trading halt as the lender announced a $440 million acquisition of Investec Australia's assets. BOQ will buy Investec's professional finance unit which includes 19,000 customers in the medical and accounting professions, as well as a $2.4 billion loan portfolio and $2.7 billion deposit book. BOQ also today announced a record first half cash profit of $140.2 million and increased its interim dividend to 32 cents per share. BOQ last traded at $12.62.
1.9 billion shares traded , worth $4.6 billion.
In economic news, total lending finance fell by 0.7 per cent in February, the first fall in four months and after rising 1.8 per cent in January to 6-year highs. Business loans were up 35.5 per cent in February compared with a year ago. Home loans were up 20.1 per cent on a year ago while personal lending was up 6.6 per cent.
Chinese producer prices fell by 2.3 per cent in the year to March (median forecast was for a 2.2 per cent decline). Consumer prices rose by 2.4 per cent over the year (median forecast 2.5 per cent).
The Australian dollar closed at US93.78c.
Ahead tonight, data on producer prices and consumer sentiment is released in the US.
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