ASX lower amid guidance uncertainty

Australia's share market finished the penultimate day of reporting season lower, as one portfolio manager questioned how much we should predict in a virus-hit economy.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed down 52.4 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 6073.8 points on Friday.

The index had its poorest week of the month, falling by 0.61 per cent.

The All Ordinaries index closed lower on Friday by 49.8 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 6260.8.

Yet SG Hiscock and Company portfolio manager Hamish Tadgell took a broader view of the market.

He said the ASX200 was having a strong month, up by 2.46 per cent, and dismissed Friday's performance as fund managers reflecting on results from a busy period.

"The prevailing theme for reporting season has been one of uncertainty," he said.

"It's been rare for companies to give guidance and even more rare to offer growth projections in that guidance.

"If you look at the next 12 months, I'm not sure you're that much wiser for what the prospects of a lot of companies are going to be."

On the ASX today, the materials sector, which includes the miners, was a major drag and finished 1.78 per cent lower.

BHP was lower by 1.85 per cent to $37.73, Rio lost 2.24 per cent to $97.88 and Fortescue fell 2.23 per cent to $18.87.

Gold miners were among the damaged stock. Newcrest Mining had a 2.46 per cent loss to $31.37.

There were losses of more than 1.0 per cent for energy, consumer goods, health and telecommunications.

Information technology, which has had plenty of interest of late, fell 1.99 per cent.

Banks did better. The big four were all up by less than 1.0 per cent.

There were wide-ranging fortunes from companies reporting.

Building products company Boral slumped to a full-year loss of $1.14 billion after it wrote down the value of assets, mostly US operations.

Write-downs of $1.32 billion were based on forecast declines in the Australian and US housing markets. The latter has been more affected by the pandemic.

Shareholders will not receive a final dividend, but despite this, shares were higher by 2.34 per cent to $3.93.

Harvey Norman lifted net profit by 19.4 per cent to $480.54 million as consumers spent more time at home during the pandemic.

Shareholders will receive a fully franked final dividend of 18 cents per share, which is down from the previous fully franked final dividend of 21 cents per share.

Yet investors seemed to think boss Gerry Harvey should have done better. Shares were lower by 1.62 per cent to $4.24.

In the US, the S&P 500 and the Dow closed higher as investors digested the US Federal Reserve's new strategy to adopt an average inflation target and restore the United States to full employment.

The Nasdaq closed narrowly lower.

The Australian dollar was buying 73.08 US cents at 1711 AEST, higher from 72.34 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 52.4 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 6073.8 points on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries index was down 49.8 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 6260.8.

* At 1711 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was trading lower by 8.0 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 6,036 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 73.08 US cents, from 72.46 US cents on Thursday

* 77.53 Japanese yen, from 76.78 yen

* 61.48 Euro cents, from 61.28 cents

* 55.03 British pence, from 54.85 pence

* 109.43 NZ cents, from 109.26 cents

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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