Signs point to flat start for ASX

Australian shares are likely to see flat trade when the market opens for the week, while Westpac has reported a slump in earnings.

The Australian benchmark SPI 200 futures contract was down 7.0 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 5,230.0 at 0800 AEST on Monday.

US markets closed lower at the end of last week.

Westpac has deferred a decision on its interim dividend and posted a 70 per cent drop in first-half cash earnings due to costs from a money-laundering scandal and a surge in charges for bad loans due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The bank’s cash earnings fell to $993 million for the six months ended March 31, against $3.30 billion it earned last year.

The result did not align with an average estimate from six analysts that pegged the figure at $1.22 billion.

Afterpay shares may gain some interest after Chinese gaming and social media group Tencent Holdings bought a 5.0 per cent stake in the Australian credit provider last week.

Tencent’s shareholding is worth $390 million.

One Australian dollar buys 64.03 US cents at 0800 AEST, down from 64.60 US cents at Friday’s close.

The price of gold is $US1697.3 an ounce.

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