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Health care, mining dip hits Aust stocks

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Published on: Friday, February 17, 2017

Australian shares fell as losses across health care, resource and energy companies offset gains in some banking and real estate stocks amid another batch of company earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.18 per cent to 5,805.8 points on Friday following a flat end on Wall Street and falls across European equity markets overnight.

The local market has risen 1.5 per cent over the past week.

CommSec market analyst Juliana Roadley said the health care sector was in the red after Medibank's interim results failed to impress investors.

"They've been spending a lot of money but they just haven't seen the turnaround," Ms Roadley said.

Medibank booked a 1.9 per cent rise in net profit, driven by higher income from investments, but operating profit from its health insurance business dropped 8.2 per cent.

Medibank dropped 11 cents, or 3.9 per cent, to $2.70, while biotechnology giant CSL fell $2.13, or 1.7 per cent, to $120.27, after rising strongly mid-week courtesy of a 12 per cent gain in half-year profit.

In the heavyweight resources sector, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton lost ground after the price of iron ore slipped 75 US cents to $US90.75 a tonne overnight.

Rio closed $1.48 lower at $67.79 and BHP fell 30 cents to $26.64.

Whitehaven Coal fell 7 cents to $2.87 as it posted a lift in half-year profit to $157.5 million, up from $7.8 million a year ago.

Energy companies, including Origin Energy and Woodside Petroleum lost ground due to concerns about the future price of oil and recent results - such as a $1.7 billion first-half loss for Origin - have been below expectations for the sector, Ms Roadley said.

Three of the big four banks finished in positive territory, with ANZ closing 56 cents higher at $30.77 after reporting a 31 per cent jump in first-quarter cash profit to $2 billion.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was broadly flat against the US dollar.

The Aussie was at 77.09 US cents at 1700 AEDT from 77.17 US cents at the same time on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 10.5 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 5,805.8 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 12 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 5,851 points.

* The March SPI 200 futures contract was down 10 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 5,754 points with 23,114 contracts traded

* National turnover was 3.95 billion securities traded worth $6.6 billion.

CURRENCY UPDATE AT 1700 AEDT:

* 77.09 US cents, from 77.17 US cents at Thursday's close.

* 87.40 Japanese yen, from 87.85 yen

* 72.24 euro cents, from 72.67

* 61.67 British pence, from 61.89 pence

* 106.99 New Zealand cents, from 106.74 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,237.63 per fine ounce, up $US2.83 from $US1,234.80 on Thursday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019, 1.852 pct, down from 1.856pct

* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.748pct, up from 2.743pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.165 (implying a yield of 2.835pct), flat from Thursday

* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.940 (2.060pct), up from 97.930 (2.070pct)

(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEDT previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session)


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