EVENING REPORT (4.30pm AEST)
The losses worsened throughout the day, with local shares finishing around intra-day lows (and 3-week low). The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) slumped 1.29 per cent; finishing below 5400 points for the first time in two weeks and recording its biggest daily tumble in a month. Investors are likely to remain a little quiet this week due to the shortened Easter trading week.
It was always going to be a tough day for the local market, as U.S. stocks slumped on Friday. Recent technology industry weakness has been a drag on U.S. equities. Popular stocks like Facebook, Netflix and Google have been losing ground over the past week. Both Netflix and Facebook have surged by over 100 per cent over the past year. Profit-takers likely to have stepped in.
All sectors finished lower by the close, despite some strength from the defensive telcos for most of the day. The miners tumbled ahead of a week packed with production updates. Tomorrow Rio Tinto (RIO) and OZ Minerals (OZL) both issue their first quarter production updates while RIO will be holding its AGM. On Wednesday, BHP Billiton (BHP) and Fortescue (FMG) are releasing quarterly numbers on Wednesday. Woodside Petroleum (WPL) and Santos (STO) are both issuing first quarter production numbers on Thursday. This combined with Chinese economic news mid-week could move currencies and our mining sector.
Banks fell by as much as 1.5 per cent, healthcare stocks slumped by 2.1 per cent and IT stocks continued on their losing streak.
On the economic front, credit and debit card stats were issued. The average credit card balance rose by 1.9 per cent or $58.70 to $3,205.6 in February. Balances are still down 2.3 per cent on a year ago. Weekly petrol prices hit four-month lows last week; however are likely to rise in the lead-up to Easter.
At close, 1.47 billion shares changed hands, worth $4.1 billion. 283 stocks finished higher, 632 in the red and 364 were unchanged. Volume is likely to be on the quiet side over the next fortnight with a number of public holidays interrupting trade. The Australian dollar is still firmer at US93.87c against the greenback than last Friday; however has fallen back from the highs of around US94.08c reached earlier today.
Looking ahead, there are no major events expect across Europe this week, while retail sales data will be a highlight in the U.S. tonight. One of North America's biggest banks, Citigroup is expected to post quarterly profit numbers overnight.
Tomorrow the Reserve Bank of Australia's board minutes from earlier in the month will be in focus. The RBA seems happy enough to keep rates on hold, while keeping a close eye on Australia's economic recovery. The rise in home prices and the dollar will be two key areas economists will be watching in tomorrow's minutes.
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