Banks, tech stocks drive ASX lower

The Australian share market has closed down for a second day as banks and tech stocks dragged on the market.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index recovered somewhat in the final minutes of trading to close down 6.5 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,665.7 points at 1615 AEST on Tuesday.

The broader All Ordinaries was down 7.3 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 6,750.1.

"It's really been the big four banks," which were all lower despite Australia's banking regulator softening its capital buffer requirements on them, said CommSec market analyst James Tao.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said the four major banks had to raise capital by three percentage points of risk-weighted assets by 2024, down from the four-to-five percentage-point increase originally proposed in November.

Markets were also skittish ahead of US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifying before Congress later on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr Tao said.

Tech stocks were the biggest losers, collectively down 1.8 per cent, with Afterpay Touch falling 4.9 per cent to $25.69 - the worst decline in the ASX200 index - and Appen down 1.8 per cent to $28.52.

The heavyweight financial sector was down 0.3 per cent, with ANZ down 0.7 per cent to $27.69, Commonwealth down 0.4 per cent to $80.97, NAB down 0.3 per cent to $26.68 and Westpac down 0.5 per cent to $27.89.

Mining companies were higher by 0.2 per cent as a whole as iron ore prices rebounded after falling sharply on Friday.

BHP gained 1.2 per cent to $41.03, Rio Tinto was up 1.4 per cent to $104.35 and Fortescue Metals gained 0.9 per cent to $8.93.

As gold dipped under $US1,400 an ounce again, gold miner Newcrest fell 1.3 per cent, but Evolution was up 2.1 per cent and Northern Star gained 0.9 per cent.

Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals gained 5.1 per cent to 51.5 cents after saying it had signed a new offtake agreement with China's Great Wall Motor Company and had made progress on a new joint-owned chemical conversion facility in South Korea.

Consumer stocks, both discretionary and staples, were up despite NAB's monthly business confidence survey and ANZ's weekly consumer confidence survey both dipping.

Domino's Pizza was up 4.1 per cent to $40.32 and Breville Group was up six per cent to $17.01, making the kitchen appliances company the biggest gainer on the ASX200.

Also, JB Hi-Fi was up two per cent, Harvey Norman up 1.3 per cent and Treasury Wine Estates up 2.8 per cent.

Biotech giant CSL was down 0.6 per cent to $220 while Telstra gained 0.8 per cent to $3.88.

PSC Insurance Group rose 3.9 per cent to $2.70 after agreeing to buy one of Australia's largest regional independent insurance brokers, Griffiths Goodall Insurance Brokers, for $48 million.

Marijuana company THC Global rose six per cent 44.5 cents after a subsidiary received a license for its botanical extract plant in Southport, Queensland.

The Aussie dollar is buying 69.52 US cents, from 69.86 US cents on Monday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 6.5 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,665.7 points at 1630 AEST on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 7.3 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,750.1.

* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was down 19 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 6,596.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.52 US cents, from 69.86 US cents on Monday

* 75.65 Japanese yen, from 75.67 yen

* 62.02 euro cents, from 62.25 cents

* 55.67 British pence, from 55.82 pence

* 104.97 NZ cents, from 105.16 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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