Aust market gives up its early gains
The Australian share market has run out of puff following a softening in US futures as tensions between North Korea and the United States hit investor confidence.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 4.8 points to 5,760.9 points, after being 24 points higher at noon.
Macquarie Wealth Management division director Martin Lakos said an exchange of threats and tweets between the US administration and the North Korean leadership was dominating global markets.
He said the Australian market held up "pretty well" until about midday, when the futures for US markets softened.
It was also a busy day of corporate earnings reports, which attracted a lot of investor focus, Mr Lakos said.
"Although I have to say nothing much exceptional or dramatic is happening on that front, with results pretty much in line with expectations," he said.
National Australia Bank closed 0.1 per cent higher, while its three major rivals lost ground. Westpac posted the biggest fall, of 0.3 per cent.
Rio Tinto shed 2.1 per cent to $65.01 after going ex-dividend, while BHP Billiton dropped 0.5 per cent to $26.07 and Fortescue Metals was 0.7 per cent weaker at $5.76.
Gold miner Newcrest gained 3.8 per cent to $21.41 as demand for safe-haven assets drove the gold price higher.
AGL Energy dropped 1.9 per cent to $24.52 despite a big jump in annual profit and its forecast of an increase in underlying profit in the current financial year, potentially beyond $1 billion.
Financial services giant AMP fell 2.6 per cent to $5.27 after its half year profit dropped 15 per cent.
Packaging business Orora gained 9.2 per cent to $2.98 after a slight improvement in its annual profit and forecast of earnings growth.
Furniture retailer Nick Scali slumped 8.4 per cent to $6.10 as a tentative outlook overshadowed a jump in annual profit to a record $37 million.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 4.8 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 5,760.9 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 5.8 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,810.6 points.
* The September SPI200 futures contract was up 32 points, or 0.56 per cent, at 5,729 points.
* National turnover was 2.9 billion securities traded worth $5.5 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 78.80 US cents, from 78.87 US cents on Wednesday
* 86.63 Japanese yen, from 86.77 yen
* 67.16 euro cents, from 67.14 euro cents
* 60.73 British pence, from 60.63 pence
* 108.30 NZ cents, from 107.71 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,278.48 per fine ounce, up from $US1,266.71 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8831pct, from 1.8717pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6034pct, from 2.588pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* September 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.345 (implying a yield of 2.655pct), from 97.36 (2.64pct) on Wednesday
* September 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.03 (1.97pct), from 98.04 (1.96pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session. Currency closes taken at 1700 AEST previous local session)
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