Aust shares follow Asian shares lower
Published on: Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The Australian share market has lost earlier gains to close lower amid a sell-off in the healthcare sector and weakness from Asian markets.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 0.1 per cent at 5,755.2 points, after almost hitting 5795 in morning trade as an overnight surge in the iron ore price boosted mining stocks.
CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said a weak performance from Asian markets weighed on the Australian market during afternoon trade.
"We have lost gains because the Asian markets didn't follow the strong leads from the US," Mr Spooner said.
"A second factor is that caution crept into the banking sector because the Commonwealth Bank is due to release its earnings tomorrow and that's not because investors are expecting a bad result, it is just because they are cautious ahead of a big result."
Commonwealth Bank fell 52 cents to $82.63, ANZ was off eight cents to $29.60, National Australia Bank shed five cents to $30.87 and Westpac dropped 12 cents to $32.69.
Weighing on the healthcare sector was hearing implants maker Cochlear which declined $4.80, or 3.6 per cent, to $128.95.
Mr Spooner said Cochlear's 19 per cent lift in first-half profit was below market expectations.
He said there was a similar reaction to Treasury Wine's first half results, which showed net profit more than doubled to $136.2 million.
Treasury Wine fell 56 cents, or 4.7 per cent, to $11.33.
Wesfarmers was off 20 cents to $42.13 after announcing it will replace its longtime chief executive Richard Goyder with the company's current industrials division boss Rob Scott.
A $US5 rise in the iron ore spot price overnight to $US91.85 - its highest level in about two years - had helped lift the major miners but gains pulled back during afternoon trade.
Rio Tinto closed up 19 cents to $68.51, while BHP Billiton slipped 24 cents to $26.21 and Fortescue Metals fell back from early gains to close flat at $6.88.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar recovered from an overnight dip, regaining almost half a US cent on the iron ore rally to end Tuesday at 76.74 US cents, up from from 76.67 cents on Monday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 5.5 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,755.2 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down two points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,810.9 points.
* The March SPI 200 futures contract was down 10 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 5,703 points, with 25,819 contracts traded.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 76.74 US cents, from 76.67 on Monday
* 86.98 Japanese yen, from 87.19 yen
* 72.27 euro cents, from 72.15 cents
* 61.18 British pence, from 61.34 pence
* 106.72 New Zealand cents, from 106.42 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1, 229.60 per fine ounce, up from $US1,229.40 on Monday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019, 1.831pct, from 1.809pct
* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.6839pct, from 2.651pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.230 (implying a yield of 2.77pct), from 97.260 (2.74pct) on Monday
* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.010 (1.99pct), from 98.040 (1.960pct).
(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEDT previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session)
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