ASX flat early, budget update looms

Shares were flat in early trade on the Australian market ahead of the federal government unveiling the size of its budget deficit later on Thursday.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 5.2 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 6069.9 points after the first 15 minutes of trade on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries index was 2.9 points, or 0.05 per cent lower, at 6189.7.

An economic and fiscal update by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, to be released at 1100 AEST, will be the focus of the market’s attention, with the government expected to reveal a huge debt bill after tagging tens of billions of dollars for measures to support the economy through the coronavirus pandemic.

Industrials and property performed best in early trading, higher by 0.67 and 0.52 per cent respectively.

The heavyweight financial sector was faring worst, down 0.46 per cent.

Telecommunications was the next hardest hit, lower by 0.44 per cent.

US markets edged higher overnight, helped by robust home sales data, with the three main indices see-sawing during trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.62 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.57 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.24 per cent.

The Australian dollar was trading at 71.44 US cents at 1015 AEST, higher from 71.34 US cents at Wednesday’s close.

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