US-China trade tensions rattle ASX

The Australian share market closed flat after a rollercoaster day caused by conflicting reports about US-Chinese negotiations.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Thursday up 0.4 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 6,547.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 4.1 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 6,662.9 points.

"What a flip-flopping day it's been," said CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy.

The ASX began the day with a strong rally, gaining 22 points in the first hour of trade, then lost 38 points in the next hour, only to rebound by 30 points in the following 40 minutes.

The local bourse then steadily lost ground from 1240 AEST until 1528 AEST, falling 32 points, before finishing the last half hour of trade with a 17-point rally to close the day almost exactly where it began.

"It's been all over the shop today," Mr McCarthy said.

"A very rough day for day traders, very hard to gauge the day."

Mr McCarthy blamed the volatility on conflicting reports on the expectations for US-China trade talks, set to begin later on Thursday in Washington.

Property trusts were the biggest losers, collectively down 0.6 per cent as Charter Hall fell 2.7 per cent and Dexus dropped 1.2 per cent.

The consumer staples sector was the biggest gainer, rising 0.5 per cent, with both Woolworths and Coles up 0.7 per cent, to $37.02 and $15.20, respectively.

Orora was the biggest gainer among the ASX200, soaring 13.9 per cent to $3.11 after the materials firm decided to offload its cardboard packing unit to Japan's Nippon Paper for $1.7 billion.

Resolute Mining dropped 11.2 per cent to $1.265 after operational problems at its Symama goldmine in Mali could lead to a drop in production for the quarter.

Other goldminers were also under pressure, with Newcrest falling 1.5 per cent and Evolution down 0.2 per cent, although Northern Star climbed 1.4 per cent.

Diversified mining giant BHP was down 0.2 per cent to $35.07 while Rio Tinto climbed 0.2 per cent to $87.92 and Fortescue Metals dropped 1.2 per cent to $8.46.

The big banks were mixed, with Commonwealth down 0.1 per cent to $78.10, Westpac up 0.4 per cent to $28.53, ANZ up 0.3 per cent to $27.18 and NAB down 0.1 per cent to $28.02.

Brambles gained 3.5 per cent to $11.40 after the logistics giant announced its constant-currency sales had risen five per cent in the September quarter, to $US1.2 billion ($A1.8b).

Clinuvel Pharmaceutical declined 14.8 per cent to $38.36 after traders took profit after Wednesday's 60 per cent gains following US Food and Drug Administration approval of its Scenesse drug for a rare genetic disorder that causes intolerance to light.

Sky New Zealand fell 19.2 per cent to 84 cents after Spark New Zealand snatched away the rights to televise future New Zealand cricket matches on its streaming service, Spark Sport.

Spark dropped 2.8 per cent, to $4.20

The Aussie dollar is buying 67.46 US cents, from 67.38 US cents on Wednesday.

In cryptocurrency, Bitcoin surged five per cent, trading for around $US8,560, or $A12,750, on Australian exchanges.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 0.4 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 6,547.1 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 4.1 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 6,662.9 points.

* At 1712 AEDT the SPI200 futures index was down three points, or 0.05 per cent, to 6,526.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.46 US cents, from 67.38 US cents on Tuesday

* 72.51 Japanese yen, from 72.20 yen

* 61.41 euro cents, from 61.47 cents

* 55.18 British pence, from 55.17 pence

* 106.80 NZ cents, from 106.78 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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