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The ASX’s early gains were capped by some big guidance downgrades as the year’s end looms. 

While the Dow Jones tacked on its biggest gains in two months on the back of strong U.S. employment figures dropped on the weekend, the market down under fought hard to stay green. 

The ASX200 saw a morning spike in response to the U.S.’s strong close, but the best of the gains were pared back by midday. A slow-but-steady incline saw the index creep higher to close 23 points, or 0.34 per cent, up at 6730.00.

Health care stocks were the biggest drag on the market today. Biotech giant CSL was enjoying an all-time high share price this time last week, but today has dropped 0.92 per cent. Sleep apnoea treatment company Fisher and Paykel looked strong with an early spike but by market, close sunk 1.08 per cent into the red. 

Small gains from Ramsay Health Care and Cochlear weren’t enough to offset the sector’s losses as Estia Health predicted a $12 million-$16 million decline in profits for 2019. The aged care company slumped 7.14 per cent to $2.47 per share by the end of the day.

Estia was not the only company to predict some weaker profits, however.

Asset manager McMillan Shakespeare said “challenging market conditions” in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. will bring in $83 million to $87 million in profits compared to the 2019 financial year’s $88.7 million. The company’s share price plummeted 6.55 per cent as a result.

Viva Energy dropped its profit guidance to between $135 and $165 million for the year — a big hit compared to last year’s $229 million. The company blamed soft economic conditions, lower market growth, and oil price volatility for the decrease.

While Viva dropped 6.10 per cent, healthy gains from the four biggest market caps in the energy sector— Woodside, Santos, Origin Energy, and Oil Search — kept the industry as today’s best performer. 

Even embattled fintech group iSignthis downgraded its 2019 guidance in light of a delayed start to Tier 1 operations, changes to its SWIFT payment systems, and its ongoing tussle with the ASX to un-suspend its shares.

The rest of the technology sector struggled to stay afloat today, with Xero closing 0.40 per cent down, WiseTech 0.27 per cent down, and Afterpay 0.033 per cent down. 

In banking, Commonwealth stayed steady to close 0.46 up. ANZ saw a late afternoon rebound and looked to be closing strong until a sudden last-minute dip, closing a slight 0.041 per cent in the red.

NAB danced near the gey line in late the afternoon but closed 0.079 per cent down, while Westpac launched back from a midday slump to close 0.45 per cent up.

Our mining giants kept resources strong. BHP tacked on 68 cents or 1.82 per cent, Rio gained 1.77 per cent, and Fortescue Metals hit an 11-year high for the second Monday in a row. The iron ore producer closed 3.23 per cent up, selling shares for $10.23 each. 

Looking overseas, Asian markets kept their growth cautious as the world waits for the potential U.S.-China trade deal to come before its Sunday deadline. 

The Asia Dow added on 9.91 points or 0.32 per cent, Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 85.06 points or 0.36 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng saw muted gains of just 5.59 points or 0.02 per cent. 

In currencies, the Aussie dollar is slightly down today, buying 68.3 U.S. cents, 51.96 pence, and 61.77 euros. 

Today’s ups and downs

Legend Mining doubled its share price today after uncovering an impressive nickel-copper discovery at its Rockford project in Western Australia. Some more diamond drilling is already being planned by the company to follow up the lucky strike. The company closed 92.86 per cent up to sell shares for 8.5 cents apiece.

The a2Milk Company took a 3.92 per cent hit to its share price after the company’s CEO, Jane Hrdlicka, unexpectedly quit. The company’s shares were trading for $14 each at market close. 

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