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ASX flat ahead of US presidential debate

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Published on: Monday, September 26, 2016

The Australian share market has closed flat ahead of the US presidential debate and following weak cues from Wall Street and a sharp fall in oil prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was flat at 5,431.4 points on Monday, with heavy losses among energy stocks following a drop in oil prices.

Patersons Securities economist Tony Farnham said the market had recovered from earlier losses during morning trade to finish flat.

"Some buying came back into the market in the afternoon led by gains from the mining-related materials sector," Mr Farnham said.

"However, people are holding off from buying into the market ahead of the first US presidential debate tomorrow."

Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will face off in their first presidential debate on Tuesday, around 11am AEST Australian time.

Shares in oil and gas producers were down after global oil prices fell on reports that Saudi Arabia and Iran had made little progress in talks about reducing production and boosting oil prices.

Santos dropped seven cents, or 1.93 per cent, to $3.56, while Woodside Petroleum fell 19 cents, or 0.7 per cent, $27.13.

Mr Farnham said the major supermarkets, Woolworths and Wesfarmers, were among the worst performers as investors reacted to reports that another competitor was ready to enter the market.

German discount retailer Lidl has been buying up trademarks in what analysts say is a sign the Aldi competitor is preparing to open stores in Australia.

Woolworths shed 50 cents, or 2.14 per cent, to $22.85, while Coles owner Wesfarmers dropped 31 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $43.73.

The major finance stocks were barely higher with the biggest bank, Commonwealth Bank, flat at $73.40.

KEY FACTS:

* At the close on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.1 points at 5,431.4 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries up 0.5 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 5,519.1 points.

* The December share price index futures contract was down six points at 5,413, with 20,518 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 2.6 billion securities traded, worth $4.3 billion.


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