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Australian shares are poised for a flat open as investors ready for another hectic day of corporate results.

ASX futures were flat at 7046 near 5.15am AEDT. The currency slid.

Shares fell across Europe and on Wall Street in the wake of Apple’s statement that the virus outbreak in would have a temporary impact on its business.

Gold topped $US1600 an ounce in New York. Oil eased, base metals were lower.

AFR interim profit season calendar: Today’s scheduled results: Accent Group, Asaleo Care, Crown, Cleanaway. Domino’s Pizza, Fletcher Building, Fortescue Metals, Lovisa, McPherson’s, Mount Gibson, McMillan Shakespeare, Nearmap, Regis Resources, Seven Group, Sonic Healthcare, St Barbara, Stockland, Vicinty Centres, Wesfarmers, Western Areas, WiseTech

Today’s agenda

Local: Westpac leading index January, Skilled vacancies January, Wage price index fourth quarter


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Overseas data: Japan machinery orders December; UK January CPI; US total net TIC flows December, PPI January final, Housing starts and building permits January

Market highlights

ASX futures was flat at 7046 near 5.15am AEDT

  • AUD -0.4% to 66.88 US cents
  • On Wall St about 1.15pm: Dow -0.7% S&P 500 -0.4% Nasdaq -0.1%
  • In New York: BHP -0.6% Rio -0.5% Atlassian -0.6%
  • In Europe: Stoxx 50 -0.4% FTSE -0.7% CAC -0.5% DAX -0.8%
  • Nikkei 225 futures -0.1%
  • Spot gold +1.2% to $US1600.79 /oz at 1.29pm New York
  • Brent crude -0.4% to $US57.46 a barrel
  • US oil -0.5% to $US51.77 a barrel
  • Iron ore -0.3% to $US90.18 a tonne
  • Dalian iron ore +1.4% to 639.5 yuan
  • LME aluminium -0.1% to $US1720 a tonne
  • LME copper -0.7% to $US5773 a tonne
  • 2-year yield: US 1.40% 0.75%
  • 5-year yield: US 1.38% Australia 0.74%
  • 10-year yield: US 1.55% Australia 1.03% Germany -0.41%
  • 10-year US/Australia yield gap: 52 basis points

From today’s Financial Review

Cashed-up BHP’s coronavirus caution: BHP’s new boss wants more copper, nickel and a better culture on the front line, but the coronavirus yet derail the new regime’s strong momentum.

Chanticleer: How Westfield ate the department store: Shopping centres have been under pressure because of the disruptive power of online shopping. But the Westfield network of malls has managed to escape the worst while eating the lunch of department stores.

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Super fund breaks ranks over ‘unrealistic’ 12pc lift: The comments put Prime Super Lachlan Baird at odds with counterparts in the super industry, who argue a rise in the super guarantee from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent must go ahead.

Coronavirus developments

will suspend entry of Chinese citizens to its territory starting from Feb. 20, Russian authorities in charge of coronavirus prevention said on Tuesday.

The suspension will be for Chinese citizens entering Russia for employment, private, educational and tourist purposes. The suspension will be temporary, the statement said

Nearly 400 companies in the S&P 500 have reported fourth-quarter earnings so far, of which 70.8% beat analysts’ profit estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Near midday in New York, Walmart shares rose 0.8% even after the world’s biggest retailer forecast slowing online growth for the year and reported weak results for the holiday quarter.

Conagra Brands shed nearly 8% after the packaged food company lowered its full-year profit and sales outlook.

Among gainers, Kroger climbed 5.4% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway unveiled a $US549.1 million stake in the supermarket chain.

Tesla jumped 5% as Bernstein and Morgan Stanley raised their prices targets for the electric carmaker’s shares.

Europe

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended off session lows helped by defensive buying as well as merger activity among Italian banks.

Milan shares closed at their highest in over a decade as Intesa Sanpaolo’s 4.86 billion euro bid for smaller rival UBI Banca sparked hopes of much-awaited consolidation among other Italian banks.

Italy’s banking index jumped 1.6% to close at a 1-1/2 year high, with UBI Banca soaring 24%.

After falling up to 0.9% during the session, the STOXX 600 closed 0.4% lower, retreating from Monday’s record highs.

“Investors are clearly very keen to keep buying,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at financial spread better Spreadex. “It took something like a warning from Apple that investors weren’t willing to ignore.”

Glencore slid 4.5% after posting its first annual loss since 2015.

Renault shares slipped 6% after a UBS price target cut. The company had announced cost cuts last week.

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British lender HSBC Holdings slid 6.6% after it said it would shed $100 billion in assets and cut 35,000 jobs.

Asia

Hong Kong stocks fell on Tuesday as Apple’s revenue warning due to slow production and weaker demand in virus-hit China took a toll on technology stocks.

At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 429.40 points, or 1.5%, at 27,530.20. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 1.4% to 10,805.15.

The Hang Seng IT index dropped 1.8%.

The Apple warning also hit Japanese shares, which fell on Tuesday, with the broad Topix index finishing at its weakest in nearly four months.

The benchmark Nikkei average fell 1.4% to a two-week low of 23,193.80, while the Topix index dropped 1.3% to 1665.71, its lowest close since late October.

All but one of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were trading lower, with electric machinery, products and machinery, becoming the worst three performers.

Among Apple’s Japanese suppliers, electric parts maker Murata Manufacturing shed 3.4% and Taiyo Yuden, which produces ceramic capacitors for iPhones, lost 5.7%, while battery maker TDK sank 4.2%.

Also hurting market sentiment was news that the was considering changing US regulations to allow it to block shipments of chips to Huawei Technologies from companies such as Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker.

Tokyo-listed semiconductor equipment supplier Tokyo Electron tumbled 4.8%, while semiconductor test equipment maker Advantest plummeted 5.8%.

Currencies

Reserve Bank won’t dare cut rates again: The Australian economy will need to weaken a lot more for the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut the cash rate to a fresh record low, BCA believes.

Commodities

China’s iron ore futures rose for a sixth straight session on Tuesday as concerns about tightening supplies intensified.

Supply concerns have also driven spot prices to fresh peaks in more than three weeks, with the benchmark 62% grade settling at $US90 a tonne on Monday, SteelHome consultancy data showed.

Keeping iron ore’s rally in check, weak downstream steel demand is pushing inventories higher in China, amid work stoppages and transport restrictions.

“Many steel mills are planning to increase the scope of production reduction or maintenance to hedge against lower profits or high inventory,” analysts at Sino-Steel Futures in Beijing said in a note.

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The average profit from construction steel rebar for China’s 91 blast-furnace mills under the radar of industry data provider MySteel almost halved to 98 yuan a tonne in January from December’s 180 yuan.

Henry’s plan to reshape BHP from the ground up: BHP doesn’t need radical surgery. What new CEO Mike Henry wants to bring is a fresh focus, energy and nimbleness in a rapidly changing world.

Shipping group Golden Ocean warned on Tuesday its profit would be hit by a slowdown in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Controlled by Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen, Golden Ocean specialises in dry bulk commodities such as coal or iron ore and operates most of its fleet – 66 out of 79 vessels – in the spot market or on similar short-term contracts.

Australian sharemarket

The Australian market’s edge over Wall Street: In the US market, the average cost per dollar of cyclically adjusted real corporate earnings is now $30. Research Affiliates argues Australian equities look better.

The Australian sharemarket declined for a second straight session on Tuesday, as disappointing earnings season results dragged a number of shares lower.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 11.4 points, or 0.2 per cent, to close the session at 7113.7.

Despite two consecutive falls, the market remains just 20 points off a record high, with weaker earnings results being partly offset by strong momentum in the market.

“I thinks it’s a case of not as bad as it could’ve been,” said JPMorgan Asset Management global market strategist Kerry Craig.

“It’s still early on and a lot of results will come through this week, but of the 60 companies who have reported, the number of companies beating expectations hasn’t been disastrous and the expectations around earnings growth from here haven’t suffered any major downward revisions.”

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