Best week in three despite late ASX fade

The Australian share market lost an early lead from Wall Street to make it consecutive days in the red, but still had its best week in three after a strong start to the pre-Christmas week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished on Friday 16.8 points, or 0.25 per cent, lower at 6,816.3 points, while the broader All Ordinaries slipped 16.5 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 6,926.1 points.

A positive start faded through the session but the share market still gained 1.14 per over the course of the week thanks to a strong performance on Monday, where optimism on US-China trade relations and Brexit boosted risk confidence.

Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir said local equities were yet to hitch a ride on the so-called Santa rally that was lifting stocks elsewhere, but added holiday cheer was likely just around the corner.

"We're playing a bit of catch-up with the rest of the world.. US, Europe, China... all the regions are already high on the Santa rally," she said.

"We still do think it will come though - December and January are generally the best months for the market."

Energy stocks and consumer staples had the largest falls on Friday, losing 0.9 per cent and 0.83 per cent respectively.

Woodside, Oil Search, Santos, and Origin each lost between 0.27 and 1.82 per cent, while supermarket giant Woolworths was down 1.59 per cent, Coles slipped 0.07 per cent and IGA-supplier Metcash dropped 1.52 per cent.

Eight of the eleven ASX sectors were in negative territory at the close of trade including the financial and healthcare segments.

The big four banks were lower, with ANZ down 0.36 per cent to $24.80, Commonwealth down 0.59 per cent to $81.25, NAB down 0.52 per cent to $24.89 and Westpac down 0.57 per cent to $24.25.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank was flat, Bank of Queensland lost 0.54 per cent and Macquarie Group was up 0.17 per cent.

Biotech giant CSL slid 0.39 per cent, ResMed fell 0.35 per cent, while Cochlear was 0.39 per cent higher.

In the same sector, Regis Healthcare was down 17.92 per cent after the nursing home operator lowered its profit guidance amid sliding occupancy rates.

Japara Healthcare also slipped 8.33 per cent.

Only the utilities, miners and industrials sectors were able to eke out gains on Friday.

BHP was down 0.18 per cent to $39.72, but Rio Tinto was up 1.37 per cent to $103.66 and Fortescue Metals was flat at $10.95.

The three main indices on Wall Street had hit new highs overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing up 0.49 per cent, the S&P 500 was up 0.45 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 0.67 per cent.

The Swedish central bank became the first in the world to emerge from negative interest rates overnight as the Riksbank raised benchmark borrowing costs from minus 0.25 per cent to zero, ending a five year experiment with negative rates.

The Aussie dollar is buying 68.89 US cents, from 68.79 US cents on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 16.8 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 6,816.3 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed down 16.5 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 6,926.1 points

* The SPI200 futures index closed down 22 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 6,750.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 68.89 US cents, from 68.79 US cents on Thursday

* 75.31 Japanese yen, from 75.39 yen

* 61.97 euro cents, from 61.81 cents

* 52.91 British pence, from 52.57 pence

* 104.38 NZ cents, unchanged from 104.34 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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