ASX closes lower for third straight day
The Australian share market has fallen for a third straight day, underperforming compared to its peers in the region.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Thursday down 32.6 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,677.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 29.1 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6,785.6 points.
The market opened higher but moved steadily lower most of the day, despite a positive lead from Wall Street and more modest losses in Asia.
"It's just been a slow bleed in price. There's certainly not panic, it's just a slow grind on reasonably low volume," said Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston.
"There's no one buying the markets today," he said. "It's a bit of a nothing day really.
"Next week will be a huge week," Mr Weston added, referring to a Reserve Bank decision on another possible rate cut and key economic data from the US and China.
Every sector on the ASX was lower on Thursday except for utilities, which were flat.
The telecom sector and utilities were the hardest hit, down 1.7 and 1.5 per cent, respectively.
Telstra fell 2.3 per cent to $3.46, Spark New Zealand fell 2.4 per cent to $4.09 and AGL Energy was down 2.2 per cent to $18.71.
Goldminers dipped as the price of the precious metal dropped to $US1508 an ounce, with Newcrest falling 3.9 per cent, Evolution down 3.8 per cent and Northern Star down 4.2 per cent.
Among the diversified mining giants, BHP was down by three cents, to $36.50, while Rio Tinto rose 0.1 per cent to $91.13.
Tiny mining exploration company Stavely Minerals soared 258 per cent to 86 cents after announcing an "outstanding" copper-gold discovery at its Thursday's Gossan project in western Victoria.
The big banks were mostly lower, with Commonwealth falling 0.5 per cent to $81.18, Westpac down 0.1 per cent to $29.86, NAB down 0.2 per cent to $29.87 and ANZ flat at $28.40,
Magellan Financial gained 2.6 per cent and Netwealth rose 5.0 per cent.
FlexiGroup soared 23.5 per cent to a nearly three-year high of $2.42 after announcing that 18,000 retailers now offer its buy now pay later service Humm including Mitre 10, Hallenstein Glasson Holdings and Hanes Australasia.
Among other buy now pay later companies, Zip Co gained 2.8 per cent to $4, Splitit was up 7.9 per cent to 54.5 cents and Sezzle rose 9 per cent to $2.30 but Afterpay was down 1.3 per cent to $35.52.
Marley Spoon climbed 6.7 per cent to 48 cents after the meal kit provider announced a new $8 million funding deal with Woolworths and Union Square Ventures.
Fonterra's ASX-listed shares recovered from an early dip to gain 4.0 per cent after the New Zealand dairy giant posted a full-year net loss.
The Aussie dollar is buying 67.52 US cents, down from 67.80 US cents on Wednesday.
Looking forward, Mr Weston predicted a "lively" trading day on Tuesday, when the Reserve Bank will decide whether to cut the cash rate for a third time this year.
The market is pricing in a 76 per cent chance of a rate cut, but only only 10 out of 21 economists are predicting one, Mr Weston said.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 32.6 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 6,677.6 points.
* The All Ordinaries closed down 29.1 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6,785.6 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed down 26 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 6,662.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST
One Australian dollar buys:
* 67.52 US cents, from 67.80 US cents on Wednesday
* 72.68 Japanese yen, from 72.79 yen
* 61.64 euro cents, from 61.63 cents
* 54.62 British pence, from 54.36 pence
* 107.22 NZ cents, from 107.21 cents.
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