ASX closes flat amid silence on trade war
The Australian share market has finished flat as traders wait for the other shoe to drop on the US-China trade war.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Thursday up 6.8 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,507.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 4.9 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 6,605.7 points.
"The market's pretty much in a holding pattern, or consolidation pattern," said IG market analyst Kyle Rodda.
"Everything can be tied back to the US and China at the moment," and without any news on that front on Thursday the market had a lacklustre session," he said.
Health care stocks were the biggest gainers, up 0.67 per cent, with CSL up 1.0 per cent to $235.43, med tech darling Pro Medicus up 2.2 per cent to set a fresh all-time high of $37.06 and Neuren Pharmaceuticals up 6.2 per cent to $1.89.
But Ramsay Healthcare closed down 0.6 per cent to $67.14 despite Australia's largest private hospital operator reporting a 40.5 per cent jump in profit for its global businesses.
Woolworths rose 0.6 per cent to a five-year high of $36.38 after announcing its full-year profit rose 7.2 per cent to $1.75 billion.
Tech stocks were the the biggest losers, down collectively 0.8 per cent, with Appen falling 11.3 per cent to $24.27 despite reporting its first-half profit rose 33 per cent to $18.6 million.
Mr Rodda said Appen "is a stock that is very much controlled by speculative flows" and it had risen 10.8 per cent on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in the sector, Afterpay Touch rose 4.7 per cent to hit an all-time high of $29.62, having risen nearly thirty-fold from its 2016 offering price of $1.
Objective Corp gained 13.7 per cent to equal its all-time high of $3.65 after getting a $38 million cloud-based content management contract with the Gold Coast council.
Financial services provider Link Group was the biggest gainer among ASX200 components, rising 9.4 per cent to $5.37 after reporting its full-year profit had risen 123 per cent to $320 million.
Ausdrill - which is in the process of changing its name to Perenti - rose 7.8 per cent to $1.88 after the diversified mining company reported underlying full-year earnings had risen 15.4 per cent to $217 million.
BHP gained 0.2 per cent to $35.50 and Fortescue Metals was up 0.3 per cent to $7.68 but Rio Tinto dropped 0.2 per cent to $85.68.
Goldminers were higher as the price of the precious metal rose to $US1548 an ounce, with Newcrest up 0.9 per cent, Northern Star up 2.5 per cent and Evolution Mining up 0.4 per cent.
In the heavyweight financial sector, Commonwealth Bank gained 0.8 per cent to $77.41, Westpac was up 0.4 per cent to $27.64, NAB rose 0.6 per cent to $27.09 and ANZ was up 0.3 per cent to $26.32.
Magellan Financial dropped six per cent to a two-month low of $49.05, a week-and-a-half after completing a $275 million institutional placement at $55.20 per share.
The Aussie dollar sank further to a fresh 10-year low against the US dollar, excluding brief flash-crashes.
It was buying 67.30 US cents, from 67.38 US cents on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 6.8 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,507.4.
* The All Ordinaries closed up 4.9 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 6,605.7.
* At 1714 AEST the SPI200 futures index was up 32 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,513.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST
One Australian dollar buys:
* 67.30 US cents, from 67.38 US cents on Wednesday
* 71.42 Japanese yen, from 71.27 yen
* 60.73 euro cents, from 60.77 cents
* 55.18 British pence, from 54.90 pence
* 106.50 NZ cents, from 106.35 cents.
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