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Qantas flights cut, China GDP expected weaker

qantas jet flying in blue sky and clouds

The S&P/ASX200 closed lower on Friday, dropping 80.50 points, or 1.08%, to 7393.90 and crossing below its 125-day moving average. The bottom performing stocks in this index were Pendal Group, down almost 16% after they updated on funds under management outflows, and Afterpay, down 9.2%. The index has lost 0.80% for the past five days, 

Qantas will cut almost a third of the domestic and international flights it has scheduled in the March quarter as the new omicron COVID-19 strain spooks travellers. In an aftermarket ASX announcement on January 13, Qantas followed the lead set by rival Virgin Australia earlier this week and said it would reduce domestic capacity from 102 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels to 70 per cent until April. Sahres closed 0.2% higher.

Financial crimes watchdog Austrac has expanded the scope of its investigation into potential money laundering breaches at Australian casinos to other entities within The Star Entertainment Group. Shares were down 1.9% by the close.

BHP cut to Sell at Morningstar

Healius raised to Hold at Morningstar

Imugene started at Outperform at Noble Capital Markets

ResMed raised to Outperform at Baird

QBE Insurance raised to Outperform from Neutral by Macquarie

Whitehaven raised to Buy from Neutral by Goldman Sachs

Bloomberg is forecasting that China is likely to post its weakest economic growth in more than a year when it releases quarterly data Monday as it counts the cost of a deepening property market slump and disruptions from virus outbreaks. Gross domestic product probably expanded 3.6% in the final three months of last year, the slowest pace since the second quarter of 2020, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. December data for industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment, due the same day, are also expected to be weaker. 

In the US

US stock index were little changed during overnight trading on Thursday, ahead of earnings from the major banks on Friday. Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 29 points. S&P 500 futures were up 0.08%, while Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.12%.

US stocks traded lower on Thursday as tech stocks weighed in the three main indexes. The S&P dropped 1.4% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plunged 2.5% while the Dow Jones erased as much as 160 after adding around 200 points earlier in the session. Delta Air Lines reported higher quarterly earnings on the back of strong holiday travel demand, but warned of a loss in the quarter through March due to turbulence caused by omicron.

In Europe

European stocks were muted on Thursday as losses in defensive sectors were matched by gains in automakers and technology stocks on hopes of improving semiconductor supply. The pan-European STOXX 600 ended largely unchanged at 486.05 points, with shares in healthcare, and personal and household goods falling the most, down 0.9 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.

Oil

WTI crude futures fell more than 1% to around $81.5 per barrel on Thursday, slipping from a 2-month high, as investors took profit after oil prices booked gains of over 5% in the two past sessions. Brent crude oil was at $US83.90.

Cryptocurrencies

Coinbase Global is acquiring futures exchange FairX in its biggest step yet toward expanding into crypto derivatives. Already registered with US regulators, the firm could give Coinbase the edge it needs in getting a derivatives marketplace up and running. Terms of the deal were not provided.

AUD/USD US72.88c

Bitcoin $US42,860

Gold $US1826.28 an ounce

Brent crude oil $US84.51 a barrel

WTI crude oil $US82.10 a barrel


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