THE Australian dollar is sharply up against its US counterpart and well above the 80 US cent mark for the first time in a while. The Australian dollar has surged against a weaker US dollar following a meeting of the European Central Bank. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 0.24 per cent at 5,676.1 points at midday AEST, pulled back by weakness in the big banks and energy stocks. Overnight, US markets ended mainly flat. Investors are awaiting further reports of the impact of Hurricane Irma and the possibility of another North Korean missile test over the weekend. Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Florida, fast on the heels of Hurricane Harvey which caused devastation in Texas.
On the local bourse, among the big banks, Commonwealth Bank was 0.6 per cent lower at $73.56 cents. Australia’s financial sector regulator has appointed three panel members to inquire into the Commonwealth Bank’s governance, culture and accountability, following allegations the bank breached money-laundering and terrorism-financing laws. Energy shares eased despite Brent crude prices lifting overnight. Woodside Petroleum fell 1.1 per cent to $28.82, and Santos dropped 1.2 per cent to $3.855..
Among the major miners, BHP Billiton was off 0.04 per cent at $27.32, Rio Tinto gained 0.4 per cent to $69.00, and Fortescue Metals eased 1.2 per cent to $5.91. Gold miner Newcrest was up 0.2 per cent at $23.34 as gold prices lifted to a one-year high. Meanwhile, the Aussie dollar surged as the greenback weakened against the euro despite European Central Bank president Mario Draghi saying that the euro zone’s currency strength may have a negative impact on the bloc’s economy. At 1200 AEST, the Australian dollar was worth 80.58 US cents, up from 79.85 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX:
* At noon AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 13.8 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 5,676.1 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 11.3 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 5,742.5 points.
* The September SPI200 futures contract was down nine points, or 0.16 per cent at 5,668 points.
* National turnover was 1.1 billion securities traded worth $1.3 billion.
CURRENCY AT NOON:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 80.58 US cents, from 79.85 on Thursday
* 87.36 Japanese yen, from 87.08 yen
* 67.02 euro cents, from 66.94 euro cents
* 61.50 British pence, from 61.23 pence
* 110.99 NZ cents, from 111.23 cents