ASX little lower, AUD falls to 76 US cents

Australia's share market has closed lower for the fourth time in the past five sessions, while the Aussie dollar fell to 76 US cents as demand for commodities dropped.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 7.1 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 6745.4 on Tuesday.

The All Ordinaries closed down by 8.4 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 6986.6.

In the major sectors, financials declined by 0.52 per cent. Materials gained 0.22 per cent despite a drop in iron ore prices.

Telecommunications proved the top sector, up 1.03 per cent, while the worst was energy, which dropped 1.04 per cent.

Deep Data Analytics chief executive Mathan Somasundaram said Tuesday had been a low-turnover day.

There was movement in the local currency however.

The Aussie dollar traded as high as 77.58 US cents in the first half of the day, then eased as low as 76.83 US cents at about 1630 AEDT.

The Aussie dollar's movement can often be linked to commodity prices, and Mr Somasundaram said there were sizeable falls in iron ore and aluminium prices on Chinese futures markets in the past 48 hours.

"There is a fair amount of warning signs that demand for commodities may be hitting a brick wall in China because of pollution concerns and credit tightening," he said.

This month the Chinese city of Tangshan introduced more pollution restrictions for steel producers, which affected demand for the steel-making component of iron ore.

Mr Somasundaram said the decline in the dollar also impacted the ASX financial sector, which tended to follow the currency.

In Europe, a third wave of COVID-19 is heightening concerns about another round of economic restrictions.

On the ASX, user-generated services directory Airtasker made its market debut and closed higher by 61.54 per cent to $1.05.

The company sold shares in its initial public offer for 65 cents, and the day's trading makes the company worth about $255 million.

It will use the funds to help expand overseas.

Rip Curl owner and retailer Kathmandu rose 9.25 per cent to $1.24 after posting an improved first-half profit.

The company reported a net profit after tax of $NZ22.3 million for the six months to January 31, up from $NZ8.1 million this time last year.

Kathmandu bought Rip Curl last year, which had a sales increase of 86.1 per cent to $NZ251.1 million.

Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of two NZ cents per share, fully franked. No interim dividend was paid last year.

Crown Resorts was down one per cent to $11.85 a day after surging on news of a takeover offer from US fund and shareholder Blackstone.

Blackstone offered $11.85 cash per share, which is worth about $8 billion.

The Crown board was considering the offer.

A royal commission into Crown's operations in Victoria begins on Wednesday, which will consider whether the company is suitable to hold a gaming licence.

It follows a judicial inquiry in NSW which found Crown unfit to run a casino at its newly built complex in Sydney.

The big miners mostly rose despite the price of iron ore falling. BHP rose 1.01 per cent to $44.95, Fortescue gained 1.25 per cent to $19.40 and Rio Tinto declined 0.05 per cent to $107.76.

In banking, each of the big four were lower. ANZ fared worst and dropped 1.3 per cent to $28.00.

On Wednesday, Premier Investments, which owns stores such as Just Jeans, Portmans and Smiggle, will give first-half earnings.

Premier in January raised first-half earnings expectations to an increase of up to 85 per cent on its 2020 first-half.

The Australian dollar was buying 76.78 US cents at 1724 AEDT, lower from 77.24 US cents at Monday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 7.1 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 6745.4 on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed down by 8.4 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 6986.6.

* At 1724 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by two points, or 0.03 per cent, and trading at 6719 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.78 US cents, from 77.24 cents on Monday

* 83.50 Japanese yen, from 84.03 yen

* 64.40 Euro cents, from 64.98 cents

* 55.52 British pence, from 55.76 pence

* 108.55 NZ cents, from 107.93 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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