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Australia Market falls on Fed, geopolitical tensions
22-Jul-19   12:28 Hrs IST
Headline indices of the Australia share market closed down on Monday, 22 July 2019, following Wall Street's slide late last week on declining hopes for a hefty rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve this month to underpin the economy and continued geopolitical tensions on news Iran seized two British tankers in the Gulf. ASX blue-chips were mixed, with solid gains from energy and mining stocks off-set declines in the real estate sector, particularly Dexus and Goodman Group, and the healthcare sector. At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inclined 51.23 points, or 0.77%, to 6,700.35 while the broader All Ordinaries added 50.81 points, or 0.75%, to end the session at 6786.25.

Local market commenced trading with backfoot as expectations for a smaller-than-expected US rate cut curbed investor optimism. Investors were cautious as US stocks fell on Friday after a Wall Street Journal report indicated that while the central bank was ready for a quarter-basis point reduction in key rates at its July 30-31 meeting, it was not prepared to make a bigger 50-basis point cut.

Meanwhile, tensions remained high in the Middle East after Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Friday captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf, claiming that the vessel was violating international regulations,” after Britain seized an Iranian vessel earlier this month. Tensions between Iran and the West continue to escalate with the tit for tat increasing in magnitude and thus increasing the risk of someone making an overstep leading to a military conflict, notwithstanding the fact that Iran, the US and its allies continue to say that they do not want a conflict

CSL was the biggest drag on the market with a 1.3% decline to A$221.81, while ASX ended the day 4.8% lower at A$83.17. Telstra closed 1% lower at A$3.80. InvoCare was down 6.5% to A$15.15. Persistent strength in iron ore prices also saw mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto add as much as 1.2% and 0.6%, respectively. Fortescue Metals Group rose 2% ahead of its quarterly output results due on Thursday.

SpeedCast International was the biggest gains in the benchmark index with 6.7% rise to A$1.92 on reports Noreweigan sovereign wealth fund Norges Bank increased its stake to a substantial holder level with 5.5%. The other big rise today was Flexigroup, up 10.6% to A$1.84 after signing up more retailers to its buy-now-pay-later network humm. Beach Energy rose 5.3% to A$2.00.

CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7042 after touching lows below $0.702 last week.

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