Big banks drag ASX lower at midday

The local share market is lower again this morning, dragged by the heavyweight banking sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 41.8 points, or 0.62 per cent, to 6688.9 at noon AEDT on Friday, while the broader All Ordinaries was 37.1 points lower at 6881.6, a drop of 0.54 per cent.

With just a few trading hours left the ASX200 was down 72.8 points for the week, or 1.08 per cent.

A weekly loss would be its second week of red in a row – although last week it was down just very marginally – as well as its fifth losing week out of the past six, and seventh out of the past nine.

Losses for the big four retail banks at midday Friday accounted for 23.9 points of the ASX200’s drop, or 57 per cent of it.

CBA was down 2.0 per cent to $98.71, Westpac had retreated 1.8 per cent to $23.50, ANZ was down 1.5 per cent to $25.44 and NAB had dropped 1.7 per cent to $31.34.

There didn’t appear to be any particular company news that could explain the drop, although US Federal Reserve officials continued their hawkish rhetoric overnight.

Elsewhere in the sector, IAG dropped 2.9 per cent to $4.71 as the insurance giant held its annual general meeting.

Chief executive Nick Hawkins told shareholders that like all businesses and its customers, IAG was continuing to experience inflation and had seen further natural disasters. There’s already been 2000 claims from this week’s flooding in NSW and Victoria, he said.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP and Fortescue were basically flat, at $38.34 and $16.53, respectively. Rio Tinto was down 0.7 per cent at $91.635.

Allkem was down 4.2 per cent to $14.29 despite the lithium miner announcing quarterly production at its facility in northern Argentina was up 17 per cent.

In the energy sector, coalminer New Hope had hit a new all-time high at $7.265 and at midday was 4.6 per cent higher at $7.21.

Whitehaven Coal was up 2.8 per cent to $10.315 after completing its 10 per cent share buyback, although a larger one could begin as soon as next week if shareholders agree.

Fellow coalminers Yancoal and Stanmore Resources were also having a good day, rising 2.8 per cent and 2.3 per cent, respectively.

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