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Market steady after losing early gains

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Published on: Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The share market has closed almost flat as a disappointing domestic business confidence survey and Chinese economic data contributed to the loss of early gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 0.03 per cent at 5,759.1 points.

National Australia Bank's monthly index of business conditions showed a fall in February, giving back the surprisingly strong gains posted in January, while business confidence also fell.

"We were chugging on at the start of the day but eased off over the afternoon," IG market strategist Evan Lucas said.

"There's a couple of things, you can't really go past what goes on in those NAB business confidence numbers - they've pretty much halved, which is disappointing considering it's probably a forward indicator."

Data from China showing its industrial output growth held steady in January and February, and retail growth slowed, was also a little disappointing, Mr Lucas said.

US futures were weaker as investors wait for the US Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates on Thursday, he added.

Most investors expect the Fed to raise rates.

The Australian dollar eased from a high of 75.92 US cents overnight, dropping sharply around the release of the NAB business confidence survey at 1130 AEDT before regaining some ground.

The Aussie was at US75.63 cents at 1700 AEDT.

On the share market, miners and energy stocks lifted, though their gains moderated during the session.

A 1.8 per cent jump in the spot price of iron ore boosted the miners, with BHP Billiton gaining 0.9 per cent to $23.87 and Rio Tinto adding 0.6 per cent to $59.50.

Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum was up 0.7 per cent and Santos improved by 1.1 per cent.

The rest of the market was relatively subdued, with only small moves among the big four banks for a slight decline in the financials index and a drop in utilities stocks.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 1.8 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,759.1 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 3.5 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 5,798.1 points.

* The March SPI200 futures contract was up four points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5,762 points.

* National turnover was 2.8 billion securities traded worth $5.7 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 75.63 US cents, from 75.71US cents on Monday

* 86.869 Japanese yen, from 86.83 yen

* 70.96 euro cents, from 70.77 euro cents

* 61.98 British pence, from 62.16 pence

* 109.23 New Zealand cents, from 109.07 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,203.20 per fine ounce, down $US4.60 from $US1,207.80 on Monday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019, 1.879pct, from 1.892pct

* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.869pct, from 2.882pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.043 (implying a yield of 2.957pct), from 97.033 (2.967pct) on Monday

* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.850 (2.150pct), unchanged from Monday.

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


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