Markets Live: ASX closes at lowest value since June
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Markets Live: ASX closes at lowest value since June

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That's all for us today. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.

Below is William's market wrap. I will be back editing tomorrow. CSL is going ex-dividend tomorrow by 127.8 cents, and NAB's business conditions indicator will be out in the morning.

Australian shares have fallen for an eighth straight session, equalling the worst losing streak since the Global Financial Crisis on a mixed day of trading for the local sharemarket.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 2.1 points, or 0.03 per cent, lower at 6141.7 after pushing into the green during the middle of the session.

NAB made an unexpected move on Monday, announcing its standard variable interest rates would remain on hold even after the three other major banks and some smaller banks lifted their own rates. While the move may be good for customers, it could hurt shareholders, with NAB not immune to the same funding pressures that cause the other major banks to lift their rates.

NAB shares closed 0.8 per cent lower at $27.66 while Commonwealth Bank shares advanced 0.4 per cent to $70.76. Westpac and ANZ both closed lower. Westpac fell 0.4 per cent to $27.69 and ANZ closed at $28.23, down 0.6 per cent.

Commodities were mixed in London on Friday and that was reflected by the major miners on Monday. BHP Billiton closed 0.4 per cent lower at $31.19 while Rio Tinto fell 0.9 per cent to $70.87. South32 performed better, lifting 2 per cent to $3.56.

Index heavyweight CSL was able to recover from recent softening in its share price on Monday, leading the market during the session. Its shares closed 0.7 per cent higher at $212.15, leading a broad recovery of the health sector. Mayne Pharma shares rose 3.5 per cent to $1.18 and Primary Health Care closed 1.8 per cent higher at $2.86.

The information technology sector also recovered from its slump during the previous week, with many technology stocks among the index's best performers on Monday. Afterpay Touch ended a five-session losing streak, advancing 7.5 per cent to $16.12, only the second time it has closed higher in the past 10 sessions. Appen and Altium both recovered from four sessions without gain. Appen rose 2.9 per cent to $14.14 while Altium closed the session at $25.73, up 1.8 per cent. Wisetech Global shares closed 3 per cent higher at $20.93 and Xero advanced 3.4 per cent to $47.82.

The market has closed with the S&P/ASX 200 down 2.1 points to 6141.7, a change of just 0.03 per cent. The index has not been at this value since June 19. The broader All Ordinaries is down 2.6 points to 6249.7.

Within the top 200 the biggest risers were Afterpay Touch, up 7.4 per cent to $16.11 and the next biggest riser was Mayne Pharma Group, up 3.95 per cent to $1.18.

Outside the 200 Impedimed was up 26.9 per cent to 49.5 cents, Clinuvel Pharma was up 19.2 per cent to $18.34 and ProPac was up 15 per cent to 22 cents.

And Clearview, which gave extraordinary evidence at the banking royal commission, hit a two-year low at $1.015 at the end of trading, the lowest price since September 2016. It was as high as $1.75 in January.

The fast growing and ambitious dairy and food company Bega Cheese is seeking to raise about $250 million as it beds down its recent expansion in western Victoria, after it bought one of Australia's biggest dairy processing facilities. Bega, which acquired the facility at Koroit from international dairy heavyweight Saputo, is now in a trading halt until the start of trading on Wednesday, or an earlier announcement. The company is seeking to raise about $200 million by way of an institutional placement. The placement will be conducted via a bookbuild with a floor price of $7.20.

It is expected that the placement will be followed by a share purchase plan, which is expected to raise up to about $44 million. Bega's fund raising move did not surprise observers.

Darren Gray has the full story here.

It's a pancake of a day on the market with the S&P/ASX 200 off 2 points at 6142.6 and the All Ords (the top 300 companies) also off 2 points at 6250. Compare this to the one-year high of 6460 the All Ords hit on August 30.

Information technology is now outperforming the rest of the market, up 0.7 per cent, and the telecommunications index is lagging by 0.7 per cent.

There are flat days and there are very flat days.

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Energy stocks are having a good day after the federal government spent the weekend confirming the National Energy Guarantee is dead.

Even AGL's chairman is getting in on the action, with Graeme Hunt today selling 4000 shares at $19.77 for $79,080. Then he used that money to help buy 12,500 shares at $19.66 for $245,750. AGL's share price fluctuated between $19.53 and $19.82 today.

Coal companies like Whitehaven and Washington H Soul Pattinson are up, 1.89 per cent and 1.51 per cent respectively. Santos is up 1.5 per cent and Origin Energy is up 1.4 per cent against a flat market.

ASX listed life insurance group Clearview made up to 303,000 criminal breaches of anti-hawking laws when pushing policies through its call centres, the banking royal commission has heard.

Clearview shares were unchanged at $1.02 in Monday's trading.

The royal commission heard on Monday that Clearview – a company born out of NRMA Life and later owned by BUPA – made about 250,000 calls to BUPA customers between 2013 and 2016. Potential customers were also contacted after Clearview purchased troves of personal data purchased from other companies.

Clearview chief risk officer Greg Martin told the banking royal commission that he believed the company had breached laws regarding anti-hawking of insurance products through call centres it used to sell insurance directly to customers.

Sarah Danckert has the full story.

The S&P/ASX200 is flat in afternoon trading, just 2 points higher than opening at 6145.

Currently the energy index is outperforming the market with Woodside, Origin, Santos, Oil Search, Whitehaven, Beach Energy and Washington H Soul Pattison all beating the rest of the market. Information technology is also stronger, with Xero shares pulling up the index, along with Altium, WiseTech and Afterpay, all off-setting declines in REA and Link Services.

The worst performing index is telecommunications. TPG is down 2.14 per cent and Telstra is off 0.6 per cent at $3.11.

Platinum Asset Management's latest fund update highlights how expensive US stocks are at the moment. Platinum's International Fund fell 2 per cent over the last quarter, but it claims it is poised to repeat gains made after the tech bubble burst. It had a 4 per cent net exposure to the United States as of August 31, 2018, compared to a 30 per cent net exposure in early 2012.

"On a relative basis, this quarter was the Fund's weakest in almost 20 years," Platinum wrote to clients.

"To reflect, the previous worst relative performance quarter to November 1998 saw the Fund fall 6 per cent versus the All Country Net Index up 7 per cent. Like now, the US was expensive on an absolute and relative basis, and technology was heavily favoured over resources. From February 1999, as the US premium eroded and the technology bubble burst, the Fund positioning aided its returns over the next five-year period. This of course is only one episode, but the point is, we have seen it before. The market's spring seems coiled far too tightly and we believe we are well-positioned for when value trumps momentum".

US Premium v Rest of World

US Premium v Rest of WorldCredit:Platinum Asset Management

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Xero shares are up 2.7 per cent today to $47.55, which is down from an all time high of $52.34 reached at the end of August.

Small business editor Cara Waters has written a piece about founder Rod Drury at the company's recent annual conference. Mr Drury still owns 35.4 million shares in Xero, or 25.2 per cent, which is worth $1.6 billion at today's price.

Waters writes:

Drury couldn't be spotted at the ping-pong tables or mini-golf and left the interviews conducted astride giant pink inflatable flamingoes in a ball pit to other team members. However the biggest round of applause at the conference was saved for when Drury took the main stage of "Xerocon" on its final day. "He's a founder, he's a visionary, he's legendary in this industry," said his successor Steve Vamos when introducing Drury.

When Drury stepped down as chief executive in March he said the move was necessary to take Xero to its next stage of growth.

The potential for growth is huge according to John Hempton from Bronte Capital, who predicted Xero could grow from its current $5.4 billion market capitalisation to reach a $100 billion valuation.




Incitec Pivot is up 4.3 per cent to $3.85 today following an investor day last week. Citi research equity analyst David Kang upgraded his target price from $3.90 to $4.10 but maintained a neutral rating. Citi has upgraded its post-tax profit for 2019-20 and 2020-21 by between 9 per cent and 14 per cent.

It now expects the 2019-20 profit to be $387 million rather than $355.9 million. And the following year they expect it to be $420 million rather than $369 million.

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