ASX falls as miners' mettle tested
The share market has closed lower with every sector down after the miners gave up earlier gains as Chinese iron ore futures eased.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 0.52 per cent at 5,743.8 points.
The mining sector was one of the bright spots during morning trade but it gave up strong gains after Chinese iron ore futures began falling in the afternoon, Patersons Securities economist Tony Farnham said.
He said Chinese import and export figures out on Tuesday had missed expectations, but had little impact on the miners because the overall trade balance had not changed much.
Chinese imports rose by 14.7 per cent year-on-year in July, while exports increased by 11.2 per cent, below economist expectations of 15 per cent imports growth and 18 to 22 per cent exports growth.
"The materials have fallen because the Dalian iron ore futures have since given back a little bit of what it gained yesterday," Mr Farnham said.
"As for the banks, we had relief buying yesterday and people are now settling back and are waiting to see what will be in CBA's results tomorrow."
The industrials sector was one of the worst performers, with one of the biggest drags being Transurban because the toll road operator's full-year results missed expectations, Mr Farnham said.
Transurban shares closed down 1.8 per cent at $11.72.
In the financial sector, Commonwealth Bank was weakest among the big four, banks down 1.1 per cent to $80.65 as it continues to deal with alleged breaches of anti-money laundering laws.
CBA announced executives will not be paid short-term bonuses for the 2016/17 financial year and the board will take a fee cut in recognition of "collective accountability" over the issue.
Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals dropped 1.7 per cent to $5.77, while Rio Tinto shed 0.5 per cent to $66.05 and BHP Billiton dropped 0.2 per cent to $26.10
Energy players were lower after a fall in oil prices overnight, with Santos down 1.2 per cent to $3.43, Oil Search falling 1.5 per cent to $6.52 and Woodside Petroleum 0.4 per cent weaker at $29.30.
James Hardie tumbled $1.10, or 5.8 per cent, to $17.90 after the building materials supplier's first-quarter profit declined 34 per cent.
One of the best performers was financial services company IOOF, with its shares rising 6.1 per cent to $10.70 after its second half underlying net profit improved from the first half of the year, and it outlined its acquisition intentions.
The Australian dollar rose to 79.30 US cents around midday after the NAB survey of business confidence index rose to a nine-year high in July, but has since pared back those gains.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 29.8 points, or 0.52 per cent, at 5,743.8 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 28.8 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 5,795.7 points.
* The September SPI200 futures contract was down 22 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 5,684 points.
* National turnover was 2.6 billion securities traded worth $5.3 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 79.16 US cents, from 79.24 US cents on Monday
* 87.56 Japanese yen, from 87.77 yen
* 67.06 euro cents, from 67.25 euro cents
* 60.73 British pence, from 60.75 pence
* 107.62 NZ cents, from 107.33 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,259.79 per fine ounce, from $US1,257.43 per fine ounce on Monday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.851pct from 1.8416pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5737pct from 2.5686pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* September 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.375 (implying a yield of 2.625pct), from 97.36 (2.64pct)
* September 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.06 (1.94pct), unchanged.
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session, currency levels taken at 1700 AEST previous local session.)
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