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Australian shares closed flat on Thursday, despite strong individual performances from Telstra, Treasury Wine Estates and QBE as materials and energy stocks come under pressure. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 0.7 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 6,328.3 points, while the All Ordinaries was down 3.1 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 6,412.6 points.

Shares fell from the open on Thursday as an overnight slide in crude oil prices compounded losses on Wall Street, while a four per cent drop in Chinese iron ore futures hit major miners BHP and Rio Tinto.

BHP closed 2.6 per cent lower at $32.84 while Rio Tinto shed 1.1 per cent to $72.92.

The IT sector bounced however as shares in Telstra jumped 5.9 per cent to a three-month high of $3.06, despite the telco giant posting an 8.4 per cent drop in full-year profit to $3.56 billion and delivering a shrunken final dividend.

Insurer QBE jumped 6.8 per cent to $10.89 on a half-year profit result boosted four per cent to $US358 million ($A496 million).

Origin Energy Ltd fell 6.4 per cent to $9.09 despite lifting full-year revenue by seven per cent to $14.8 billion and more than doubling underlying profit on the back of improved performance in its retail and gas production operations.

Australia's biggest winemaker, Treasury Wine Estates, jumped 4.5 per cent to $19.41 as its focus on premium wines lifted full-year profit 34 per cent to $360.3 million.

Asian markets were lower as trade tension worries continue on world markets.

Locally the under-pressure Australian dollar got a bounce from official jobs data showing a surprise drop in the unemployment rate to 5.3 per cent in July, down from 5.4 per cent.

International Markets

US stocks have rebounded with the Dow posting its biggest percentage gain in over four months, as positive earnings and waning trade jitters buoyed investor confidence.

A broad rally pulled all three major US indexes higher following Wednesday's sell-off.

Walmart shares jumped 9.3 per cent after the world's largest retailer topped earnings estimates and posted its best same-store sales growth in a decade.

Easing trade tensions gave relief to tariff-vulnerable industrials, which led the Dow Jones Industrial Average's advance. Boeing and Caterpillar ended the session up 4.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively.

The S&P 500 industrial sector gained 1.2 per cent.

Escalating tariff rhetoric cooled down on news that Beijing will send a delegation to Washington to help resolve the growing trade conflict between the world's two largest economies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 396.32 points, or 1.58 per cent, to 25,558.73, the S&P 500 gained 22.32 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 2,840.69 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.41 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 7,806.52.

All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 ended the session higher, with telecom and consumer staples posting the largest percentage gains.

Second-quarter reporting season is winding down. With 463 of S&P 500 companies having posted earnings, 79.3 per cent have exceeded analyst estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cisco Systems stock rose 3.0 per cent after beating Wall Street revenue and profit targets. Cyber security firm Symantec ended a five-day slide, advancing 4.6 per cent after hedge fund Starboard Value LP bought a 5.8 per cent stake in the company.

Among losers, shares of JC Penney Co posted an all-time closing low, plunging 27.0 per cent after it posted disappointing results and forecast a worse-than-expected full-year loss.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.97-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.40-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 33 new 52-week highs and four new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 91 new highs and 69 new lows.

Source: Morningstar

To Read the Full Morning Report Please CLICK HERE
Reporting Season Monitor & Commentary
The reporting season has kicked off with Rio Tinto, Transurban, Commonwealth Bank, Tabcorp, AMP, AGL, Suncorp & Crown Resorts reporting over the past couple of weeks.

We've provided some commentary on the recent results which can be viewed by clicking on the image below:

To see the upcoming companies due to report and the market expectations please click on the image below:

Michael Ron
Research Analyst
Wealth Management - Key Person Insurance

Many business owners insure against damage to physical business assets and have workers compensation and professional indemnity/public liability insurance. However, for many businesses the most important assets of the business, the key people, are unprotected.

A Key Person is someone whose inability to work is likely to result in reduced revenue coming into the business. This may be an owner, but may also be a key employee. The business is the policy owner that takes out the cover over the key person.

To Read the Full Article CLICK HERE
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Recommendation Definitions

SPECULATIVE BUY – Potential 10% or more outperformance, high risk
BUY – Potential 10% or more outperformance
HOLD – Potential 10% underperformance to 10% over performance
SELL – Potential 10% or more underperformance
Period: During the forthcoming 12 months, at any time during that period and not necessarily just at the end of those 12 months.

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