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S&P/ASX 200 shares edge lower as Australia is technically out of a recession

Brent crude oil futures extended losses today, falling 0.6% to US$47.15 a barrel as OPEC and its allies delayed a formal meeting to decide whether to increase output in January.

Creso Pharma Ltd - S&P/ASX 200
Gold prices fell 0.1% to US$1,813.75 per ounce after surging more than 2% in the previous session.

S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) was down 0.28% to 6570 by around 1.40 pm even as the latest GDP figures showed that the Australian economy grew by 3.3% in the September quarter after falling by 7% in the June quarter and 0.3% in the March quarter.

While the gross domestic product (GDP) is still down 3.8% compared to last year, the quarterly growth represents the end of Australia’s technical recession (two straight quarters of contraction).

The head of national accounts at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Michael Smedes, said the easing of social distancing and trading conditions through the quarter had helped drive the result.

Westpac to sell insurance arm

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) will sell its general insurance arm to German insurer Allianz SE (ETR:ALV) for $725 million, further trimming its portfolio to beef up capital and focus on local business.

The deal includes a 20-year agreement for the distribution of insurance products to Westpac's customers.

The transaction is the latest in a series of sales of underperforming insurance assets by the country’s Big Four banks as they re-focus on local core operations.

Top gainers

Today’s top gainers on the ASX include Creso Pharma Ltd (ASX:CPH) (+38.00%), Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) (+15.38%), Calima Energy Ltd (ASX:CE1) (+12.50%), Horizon Minerals Ltd (ASX:HRZ) (+10.00%), Carnavale Resources Limited (ASX:CAV) (+10.00%), Roots Sustainable Agricultural Techn Ltd (ASX:ROO) (+13.64%) and White Rock Minerals Ltd (ASX:WRM) (+14.14%).

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