ASX ends week lower as Vic enters lockdown

A week of more confident earnings reporting on the Australian share market has ended on a low note, as Victorians prepare for a five-day coronavirus lockdown.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 43.4 points, or 0.63 per cent, to 6806.7 on Friday.

The All Ordinaries closed down by 40.8 points, or 0.57 per cent, at 7081.3.

After a week in which the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra and others gave decent interim dividends and cheerier forecasts, investors were reminded of the coronavirus threat.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared a five-day lockdown from Saturday after a COVID-19 outbreak at Melbourne Airport's Holiday Inn increased to 13 infections.

Most states and territories have imposed restrictions on visitors from Victoria.

CommSec market analyst James Tao said the lockdown news sent shockwaves through the market.

Qantas closed 4.81 per cent lower, its worst drop since June, to $4.55. Webjet lost 3.93 per cent to $4.64.

The ASX indices closed near their lowest levels of the day.

"The lockdown adds more concern to how COVID can be contained, even with all the positive news of late around the vaccine," Mr Tao said.

The market has climbed steadily since September from vaccine developments and their distribution.

"The lockdown has not quite popped the bubble, but it's given the market a shake that the pandemic could be around for some time," Mr Tao said.

The ASX200 closed 0.49 per cent lower for the week.

There was a tame showing from US markets, which closed mostly higher.

Wall Street investors continued to analyse solid corporate earnings. A government report on jobless claims, though, showed employment remains weak while the pandemic continues.

Former AFL chief Andrew Demetriou became the third person to resign from the Crown Resorts board after a scathing review of the casino giant.

The company also said chief executive Ken Barton had not resigned but was considering his position.

Shares were down 1.59 per cent to $9.89.

Developer Mirvac says the rollout of vaccines for coronavirus will boost economic confidence and help the construction industry.

Mirvac, which works in residential and commercial property, reported a 35 per cent fall in bottom line first-half net profit to $396 million.

Shareholders will receive an interim distribution of 4.8 cents per security, down from 6.1 cents in the same period in 2019/20.

Shares were down 1.69 per cent to $2.32.

Outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu said first-half sales were 12 per cent higher than the same six months in the previous financial year.

The figures for the six months to January 31 were helped by a six-month contribution from Rip Curl, which the company bought last year.

Kathmandu is due to give first-half earnings on March 23.

Shares were lower by 4.84 per cent to $1.18.

In mining, BHP dropped 1.67 per cent to $44.72, Fortescue gained 0.59 per cent to $23.83 and Rio Tinto shed 1.15 per cent to $117.35.

The big four banks, as well as Bendigo, fell by less than one per cent each.

Earnings reporting season continues next week, with JB Hi-Fi and Bendigo Bank among those reporting on Monday.

BHP will give first-half earnings on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Rio Tinto will issue full-year earnings.

Thursday will be particularly busy. CSL, Crown and Fortescue are among those due to report.

Jobs figures for January are due, and analysts tipped employment to improve.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.48 US cents at 1717 AEDT, higher from 77.36 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 43.4 points, or 0.63 per cent, to 6806.7 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed down by 40.8 points, or 0.57 per cent, at 7081.3.

* At 1717 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by seven points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6736 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.48 US cents, from 77.36 cents on Thursday

* 81.22 Japanese yen, from 80.99 yen

* 63.89 Euro cents, from 63.86 cents

* 56.15 British pence, from 55.93 pence

* 107.32 NZ cents, from 107.15 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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