ASX falls on rising COVID cases and widening lockdowns, UK bans Binance cryptocurrency exchange – ABC News

The Australian share market has lost ground amid coronavirus lockdowns and increased restrictions, with travel stocks weighing it down. 

Key points:

  • Travel stocks weigh on Australian market
  • Westpac sells car loans business
  • UK bans cryptocurrency exchange Binance 

At 1:15pm AEST, the All Ordinaries index was down 0.1 per cent to 7,572.

The ASX 200 index had come off its lows and was down slightly at 7,306. 

Consumer stocks led the gains, with oil stocks and miners also higher. Industrials, real estate and banks were among the stocks that were lower. 

Big retailers that benefit from stay-at-home orders have generally jumped today. 

Online retailers Kogan (+4.2pc) and Redbubble (+7.6pc) and supermarket giant Woolworths (+2.6pc) were among those that did the best on the benchmark index. 

Among those going down were gold miner Gold Road Resources (-7.6pc), and buy now pay later firms Afterpay (-7pc) and Zip (-4.6pc). 

Travel firms were in the red including Qantas (-3.8pc), Corporate Travel Management (-2.9pc), Webjet (-3.9pc) and Flight Centre (-2.5pc), as much of the country faces coronavirus restrictions with lockdowns in Sydney and the Northern Territory.

David Bassinese from BetaShares Exchange Traded Funds said the increase in coronavirus infections and low vaccination rates were worrying investors.  

“Extended lockdowns could severely knock economic growth in the short-term and see the local share market materially lag its global peers.”

Star Entertainment said its Sydney casino would remain closed until the greater Sydney lockdown ends on July 9, while the Star Queensland will have restrictions including mandatory mask wearing. 

Star said it would continue to pay staff in Sydney during the lockdown. 

Star shares dropped 1.1 per cent to $3.66. 

Crown Resorts said it closed gaming activities in Perth yesterday amid new COVID restrictions. 

Crown shares fell 0.8 per cent to $11.91. 

Westpac sells off car loans unit 

Westpac said it would sell its car finance business to US private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management and transfer about $1 billion worth of loans to Angle Finance, a Cerberus company. 

The bank, like other major lenders, has sold off assets in the wake of financial scandals and underperforming businesses. 

It also sold its vendor finance business to Cerberus last year. 

Westpac’s share price dropped 0.4 per cent to $25.78. 

Stan Sport buys UEFA broadcast rights 

Nine Entertainment-owned Stan Sport has bought the exclusive broadcast rights for UEFA Club Competitions, the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League and Europa Conference League, as a part of a three-year-deal. 

It said it will live stream all 420 matches across each season of the competitions, starting with the UEFA Super Cup next month. 

Stan Sport, which launched in February, now has the streaming rights to rugby union, grand slam tennis including Wimbledon and the Australian Open, and the UEFA club competitions. 

Nine said it expected Stan Sport to report expenses of $70 million to $90 million for 2022 for the sports rights and production costs.

Nine shares fell 0.7 per cent to $2.98. 

Hong Kong cancels morning trading 

Bad weather in Hong Kong saw the morning trading session on both the share and derivatives markets cancelled because of a black rainstorm warning. 

The Hang Seng Index closed higher up 1.4 per cent on Friday at 29,288. 

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 per cent to 29,121.

The Australian dollar was steady at around 75.83 US cents. 

Spot gold was down nearly 0.1 per cent at $US1,779.25 an ounce, while Brent crude oil has lost 0.3 per cent to $US76.01 a barrel in today’s trade. 

UK bans Binance cryptocurrency exchange 

The price of bitcoin has increased despite the UK financial regulator banning Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges. 

The regulator said Binance cannot conduct any regulated activity in the UK and issued a warning to consumers about the platform, which has been under scrutiny globally. 

The Financial Conduct Authority said Binance Markets must not carry out any regulated activities without its written consent. 

It also issued a warning to consumers about Binance Markets and the wider Binance group.

Binance said in a statement that Binance Markets, which it acquired in 2020, was not yet using its regulatory permissions, and that the FCA’s move would not impact services offered on its Binance.com website.

 “We take a collaborative approach in working with regulators and we take our compliance obligations very seriously,” a spokesperson said.

The FCA has told Binance that by June 30 it must display a notice stating that “Binance Markets is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the UK” on its website and social media channels.

UK citizens will still be able to use Binance’s services in other jurisdictions. 

At 1:15pm AEST, Bitcoin was up 4.7 per cent to $US34,415. 

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Bitcoin explained: Everything you need to know about the crypto craze(David Chau)

US stocks mark new records

On Wall Street on Friday, the S&P 500 index ended at a record high boosted by sportswear maker Nike and banks. 

Weaker than expected inflation data eased worries about a sudden pullback of bond buying by the US central bank. 

Consumer inflation rose 0.4 per cent in May over the month compared to a rise of 0.6% in April.

Personal income fell 2 per cent over the month and spending was flat. 

Investors were still riding high from last week’s new infrastructure spending package from the Biden Administration. 

The Dow Jones index rose 0.7 per cent to 34,434, the S&P 500 added 0.3 per cent to 4,281 and the Nasdaq Composite fell slightly to 14,361.

ABC/Reuters