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Falling big four bank shares pull down ASX

The Australian sharemarket has closed modestly in the red as gains from miners couldn't outweigh losses from the financial sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 10.7 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,060.8 points at 1615 AEDT on Monday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 7.6 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 6,128.6.

"The banks are weighing on the market," said Bell Direct market analyst Julia Lee.

The big four banks were down between 1.24 per cent and 1.62 per cent, with NAB leading the losses, slipping down 40 cents to $24.35.

Bendigo and Adelaide closed down 6.82 per cent, to $10.39, after the regional lender announced its first-half profits had dipped 2.4 per cent, to $219 million.

But it was a better day for the materials sector as iron ore futures surged as Chinese investors returned to the market following their break for Lunar New Year.

Iron ore futures have spiked 22 per cent since a January 27 dam collapse in Brazil, which forced mining giant Vale to suspend some operations, jumping from $US75.30 to $US92.13.

BHP closed up 2.01 per cent to $36.04, Rio Tinto was up 1.8 per cent to $92.20, and Fortescue Metals rose 3.48 per cent to $6.25.

JB Hi-Fi closed up 1.51 per cent, to $22.92, after the electronics retailer said half-half profits rose 5.5 per cent, while Kogan shares closed down 4.76 per cent, to $4.20.

Shares in Praemium, which provides platforms for investment and portfolio managers, skidded 15.71 per cent, to 59 cents, after the Melbourne-based company said net profit after tax had fallen 13 per cent, to $663,000.

Shares in aged care operators shot up after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $662 million funding boost on Sunday, ahead of hearings by a royal commission into aged care.

Regis Resources was up 2.94 per cent to $5.26 cents; Japara Healthcare up 5.2 per cent to $1.315; and Estia Health up 7.3 per cent to $2.50.

Two companies announced they were being impacted by the flooding in Queensland, livestock operator Australian Agricultural Company and chemicals and fertiliser manufacturer Incitec Pivot.

AAC shares were down 12.26 per cent after it said it expected "extreme" cattle deaths at its 30,000-head Wondoola station in the Gulf country.

Incitec Pivot shares closed down 2.07 per cent after the company said it would lose $10 million a week until rail lines in the region reopen so it can resume operations.

The Aussie dollar was buying 70.95 US cents, from 70.85 US cents on Friday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 10.7 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,060.8 points at 1615 AEDT on Monday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 7.6 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 6,128.6

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 4 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 6,007.0.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.97 US cents, from 70.77 US on Friday

* 78.04 Japanese yen, from 77.65

* 62.66 euro cents, from 62.41

* 54.89 British pence, from 54.66

* 104.93 NZ cents, from 104.80

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1311.31 per fine ounce, from $US1309.99 on Friday.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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