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Supermarkets, banks drag on Aust shares

Supermarket and banking stocks have pulled the Australian share market lower, with international trade hostilities weighing on the indices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 20.5 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 6,169.5 points on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 20.2 points, or 0.32 per cent, lower at 6,276.8 points.

Rakuten Securities Australia chief operating officer Nick Twidale pointed to lingering trade volatility between the US and China to explain the fall in benchmark consumer staples Woolworths and Wesfarmers, which were down 1.4 and 1.9 per cent respectively.

"Those global concerns are going to continue to hit the wider financial market and they will effect Australian companies, so consumers (being down) makes a lot of sense," he said.

Losses were felt across the share market with consumer discretionary, utilities and industrial stocks all down more than one per cent.

The Australian dollar, which is sensitive to Chinese-related trade issues, reached a three-week high having gained 1.4 per cent so far this week.

It was helped along by comments from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday that Beijing will not stoop to a competitive devaluation of its currency.

His comments came after China imposed new retaliatory levies on about $60 billion worth of US goods at scaled-back rates.

The Aussie weakened later in the day, buying 72.57 US cents at 1630 AEST, down from 72.49 on Wednesday.

Materials posted strong gains as global trade tensions eased and copper prices soared.

The sector was up 1.1 per cent, buoyed by Rio Tinto's rise of 3.6 per cent to $78.10 and BHP up 1.1 per cent to $32.77.

Health care was the only other sector to finish in the green on the back of benchmark CSL lifting 2.2 per cent to $206.88.

In companies news, Soul Pattinson reported its profit has fallen 20 per cent to $266.8 million compared to $333.1 million a year ago, despite gains across the investment firm's portfolio.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Lew-backed Premier Investments has seen its full-year net profit drop more than 20 per cent to $83.64 million, on the back of impairments.

Soul's shares were down 6.3 per cent to $24.04 and Premier's shares fell 2.3 per cent to $19.00.

ON THE ASX:

* The S&P/ASX200 closed down 20.5 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 6,169.5 points

* The All Ordinaries was 20.2 points, or 0.32 per cent, lower at 6,276.8 points

* In futures trading the SPI200 futures index was down 20 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 6,166.0 points at 1630 AEST

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.57 US cents, from 72.49 US cents on Wednesday.

* 81.40 Japanese yen, from 81.45

* 62.09 euro cents, from 62.05

* 55.17 British pence, from 55.09

* 109.13 NZ cents, from 109.75

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEST was $US1,204.60 per fine ounce, from $US1,202.83 on Wednesday.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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