The Australian market finished slightly positive yesterday, with strength from the Industrials and Health Care names buoying the index. At the close, the ASX 200 index added 1.6 points, to 5,684.
Within the Industrials space, Sydney Airport put on 1.3%, Transurban added 0.6%, while Health Care names CSL Limited and Ramsay Health Care gained 0.6% and 0.8% respectively.
The Financials sector closed flat, after the big four banks announced ATM fees will be scrapped. Westpac was the best performer, adding 0.7%, ANZ edged up 0.2%, while NAB closed flat and Commonwealth Bank gave up 1.1%.
Amongst other sectors, BHP and Rio Tinto both eked out a 0.1% gain, Woodside Petroleum gave up 0.2%, while Wesfarmers and Woolworths fell 0.3% and 0.6% respectively.
The Australian futures market points to a 0.25% rise today.
In the US, sharemarkets finished in the red. Jitters about North Korean tensions returned to the fore after the North Korea’s foreign minister said the US had declared war. The US quickly responded, rejecting the claims. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 both closed 0.2% weaker, while the NASDAQ fell 0.9%.
Technology stocks were the largest drag on the US market, as Apple lost 0.9%, eBay closed 1.3% lower, while Amazon and Microsoft both gave up 1.6%.
The news Angela Merkel had won Germany’s election over the weekend dominated trading on European sharemarkets, with markets finishing the session mixed. The surprise strengthening support for the far right and the reduced influence of Merkel’s government in the future, weighed on the Euro currency. The STOXX 600 rose by 0.2%, while the German DAX rose less than 0.1% and the UK FTSE 100 fell by 0.1%.
It’s been talked about for almost a year now, but it looks like the changes to the US taxation system are edging closer to reality.
Repealing Obamacare has been the item on the agenda that needs to be resolved before Trump can move onto his much anticipated tax cuts. Unfortunately for Trump, it looks like his efforts to repeal Obamacare will fail, but nevertheless, it brings the next item on the agenda into play.
A defeat on Obamacare doesn’t look good for the Republicans, but as far as Trump is concerned, “My primary focus, I must tell you – has been from the beginning, as you can imagine – is taxes”.
Financial markets have been eagerly awaiting the tax cuts as well, with cuts to high and low income earners, as well as a cut to the company tax rate a major driving factor behind the rally in the US market since Trump got elected.
However, as his attempts to repeal Obamacare have shown, it’s not that easy passing legislation, even if you have the balance of power.
Watch this space. The debate begins in earnest shortly, and financial markets will be anxiously awaiting the outcome they have been anticipating all year.
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