Australian shares are set for a subdued start to the week following a flat end to Wall Street last Friday.

The Australian SPI 200 futures contract was down 58 points, or 0.95 per cent, to 6,026 points at 8.30am Sydney time on Monday, suggesting a negative start to trading.

The S&P 500 ended nearly flat on Friday despite coming close again to its record closing high, as data on the US economy added to uncertainty over the recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34.3 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 27,931.02, the S&P 500 lost 0.58 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 3,372.85 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.20 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 11,019.30.

Locally, Lendlease has posted a full-year net loss of $310 million, compared to a profit of $467 million last year.

Revenue was down 19.8 per cent to $13.27 billion, and no final dividend was declared.

BlueScope Steel reported a 91 per cent fall in annual net profit as covid-19 crimped demand in key markets.

More than two-thirds of S&P/ASX 300 companies are scheduled to release accounts this week, including BHP, Coles, CSL, Suncorp and Wesfarmers.

The Australian S&P/ASX200 benchmark index ended Friday 35.2 points or 0.58 per cent higher at 6,126.2 points. The All Ordinaries index ended up 37.8 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 6,261.7.

Spot gold was down 0.4 per cent to $US1,945.12 an ounce; Brent crude was up 0.02 per cent to $US44.97 a barrel; iron ore was down 0.9 per cent to $US122.44 a tonne.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was buying 71.77 US cents at 8.30am, up from 71.49 US cents at Friday’s close.


China stocks ended higher on Friday, bolstered by gains for consumer firms, as weak consumption data reinforced expectations that Beijing will take more measures to boost domestic demand.

The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 1.5 per cent, to 4,704.63, while the Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1.2 per cent at 3,360.10

The tech-heavy start-up board ChiNext added 1.8 per cent, while the newly launched STAR50 index climbed 1.1 per cent

Leading the gains, the CSI300 consumer staples index ended up 1.9 per cent, having gained 43 per cent this year.

China’s retail sales slipped in July, dashing expectations for a modest rise, as consumers in the world’s second-largest economy failed to shake off wariness about the coronavirus, while the factory sector’s recovery struggled to pick up pace

Hong Kong stocks were little changed on Friday, but posted weekly gains of more than 2 per cent thanks to a rally in consumer players, as investors looked for more stimulus measures to counter the economic damage done by the covid-19 pandemic.

The Hang Seng index fell 0.2 per cent to 25,183.01, while the China Enterprises Index gained 0.2 per cent to 10,266.46 points.

Japan’s Nikkei share average eked out gains on Friday, but stopped short of a final step towards a complete recovery from its decline triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

The Nikkei ended 0.17 per cent higher at 23,289.36, briefly hitting a six-month high for two straight sessions, but did not rise enough to close a major chart gap between 23,378 and 22,950 made in February, when signs of global spread of the covid-19 caught investors off guard.


European shares fell on Friday as travel stocks took a hit after Britain added more European countries to its quarantine list, while disappointing retail sales data from China raised doubts over the pace of economic recovery.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.8 per cent by 0713 GMT, but was on course to notch gains for a second straight week.

Travel and leisure stocks dropped 2.1 per cent, with UK-based airlines and tour operators such as TUI, Easyjet, British Airways-owner IAG falling between 3.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent.

French shares fell 1.0 per cent, with Air France KLM dropping 3.8 per cent.

The UK decided to impose a 14-day quarantine on arrivals from France, beginning Saturday, and added the Netherlands, Malta and three other countries to the list.

Meanwhile, global markets were sluggish as China’s retail sales showed a surprise drop in July, while the factory sector’s recovery struggled to pick up pace, dimming prospects of a speedy rebound from the coronavirus crisis.

North America

Aggressive stimulus measures have helped the three main US stock indexes bounce back from a coronavirus-driven crash in March. The benchmark index at one point on Friday was up 0.15 per cent to 3,378.51 but retreated to close very marginally lower.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the S&P 500 briefly traded above its 19 February record close of 3,386.15 but lacked momentum on Friday.

Hitting a closing record would confirm, according to a widely accepted definition, that the S&P 500 entered a new bull market after hitting its pandemic low on 23 March.

Investors also may be pausing after the market’s big advance, with plenty of uncertainty to keep them cautious.

Data on Friday showed US retail sales increased less than expected last month and could slow further due to spiralling covid-19 cases and a reduction in unemployment benefit checks.

Separately, readings showed that US factory output increased more than expected in July but remained below pre-pandemic levels while consumer sentiment was largely steady in the first half of August.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.6 per cent, the Dow added 1.8 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 0.1 per cent.

Adding to recent uncertainty, prospects of more fiscal aid have faded with the Senate and House of Representatives in recess and no fresh talks scheduled.

The upcoming US presidential election is adding caution, along with continued outbreaks of the virus in parts of the US.

Applied Materials Inc gained 3.9 per cent after it forecast fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates following a rebound in demand for chip equipment and services.

Shares of German biotechnology firm CureVac BV surged in their Nasdaq debut, marking the first stock market launch by a company developing a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus.