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Investors still worried about North Korea

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Published on: Thursday, September 07, 2017

Despite a good start to the session, the Australian share market has closed steady as investors worry about the possibility of another North Korean missile test on Saturday, the anniversary of the country's founding.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index gained just 0.2 points to 5,689.9 points, with a mixed performance across the sectors, with materials slightly weaker and financials marginally stronger.

CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said the mood of investors remains brittle, despite a recovery on US markets overnight.

"That may be partly because there is talk that there will be another missile test this weekend, which is probably keeping people on the backburner," Mr Spooner said.

Disappointing Australian retail data also dampened sentiment, he said.

Retail spending stalled in July after three months of growth, with weaker sales of household goods and in department stores offsetting stronger spending on food and recreational goods.

Despite that, electronics and homewares retailer Harvey Norman rose 0.5 per cent to $3.88, JB Hi-Fi lifted 1.5 per cent to $23.30 and department store Myer added 0.7 per cent to 75.5 cents.

Commonwealth Bank gained 0.4 per cent to $73.98, Westpac found 0.2 per cent to $31.02, National Australia Bank lifted 0.1 per cent to $30.17, and ANZ dipped 0.2 per cent to $29.13.

BHP Billiton fell 1.4 per cent to $27.33 as it traded ex-dividend, Rio Tinto put on 0.7 per cent to $68.75 and Fortescue Metals was up 0.3 per cent at $5.98.

Energy companies benefited from stronger oil prices, with Woodside Petroleum up 0.7 per cent to $29.13 and Oil Search up one per cent to $6.77.

Telstra had its best session in four months, adding 2.8 per cent to $3.72.

The Australian dollar rose back above 80 US cents overnight after Wednesday's improved economic growth figures, but fell after the release of the retail data on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* At 1630 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 0.2 points at 5,689.9 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 0.9 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 5,753.8 points.

* The September SPI200 futures contract was up four points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5,678 points.

* National turnover was 2.8 billion securities traded worth $6.1 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 79.85 US cents, from 79.81 US cents on Wednesday

* 87.08 Japanese yen, from 86.73 yen

* 66.94 euro cents, steady

* 61.23 British pence, from 61.29 pence

* 111.23 NZ cents, from 110.49 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,336.27 per fine ounce, from $US1.338.04 per fine ounce on Wednesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9265pct, from 1.8865pct on Wednesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5885pct, from 2.5463pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* September 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.365 (implying a yield of 2.635pct), from 97.405 (2.595pct) on Wednesday

* September 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.99 (2.01pct), from 98.03 (1.97pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)


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