Thursday, October 22, 2020

ASX opens higher on easing coronavirus restrictions in Victoria, Crown Casino shares plunge

ASX opens higher on easing coronavirus restrictions in Victoria, Crown Casino shares plunge

Shares in casino operator Crown Resorts have plunged after the financial crimes regulator AUSTRAC launched an investigation into compliance with anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws.

New South Wales authorities are also probing allegations of money laundering at Crown’s casinos by criminals with links to junket operators in China.

Victorian gaming authorities have asked Crown to show cause as to why it shouldn’t face penalties over the allegations.

At 11:15am AEDT, Crown shares were down 9.1 per cent to $8.17.

ASX rises on relaxed coronavirus restrictions in Victoria

The Australian share market has opened higher as Victoria eased its coronavirus lockdown and infections in the state continued to fall.

There are also renewed hopes of a new US stimulus package ahead of next month’s presidential election.

At 11:15am AEDT, the ASX 200 index was up 0.7 per cent to 6,221.

The All Ordinaries index was up 0.7 per cent to 6,429.

On Friday, the ASX 200 index fell 0.5 per cent.

Today nearly all sectors gained in early trade on the benchmark index with education stocks, healthcare, technology firms and miners leading the way.

Big banks and big miners were higher.

Construction firm CIMIC rose 2.6 per cent to $21.42 after it said it would sell half of its mining services business Thiess to activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors.

Oil refiner Ampol said its Lytton refinery in Brisbane had made a quarterly loss of $82 million because of the impact of coronavirus.

The company is reviewing the plant and considering closing it down.

Its shares came off their lows and rose 0.6 per cent to $25.25 at 11:15am AEDT.

The Australian dollar remains under pressure amid expectations the Reserve Bank will cut official interest rates next month.

At 11:15am AEDT, it was buying around 71 US cents, up 0.25 per cent.

Spot gold is up nearly 0.1 per cent to $US1900 an ounce.

Brent crude oil was at $US42.93 a barrel.

US stocks end mixed but Dow snaps three-day losing streak

On Wall Street on Friday, the major market indexes ended mixed.

The Dow Jones index rose 0.4 per cent to 28,606, the S&P 500 was flat at 3,484 and the Nasdaq fell 0.4 per cent to 11,672.

Some investor confidence returned after pharmaceutical firm Pfizer said it could apply for US authorisation for the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with German partner BioNTech in November.

There were hopeful comments from US officials about new stimulus for the North American economy.

US retail sales were much better than expected in September.

Sales rose 1.9 per cent as people bought cars and clothing, ate out and spent more on hobbies.

Sales fell 1 per cent in August.

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