ASX bounces back after limited Iran strike
The Australian share market has bounced back from its sharp morning losses as it become apparent that an Iranian missile attack on US forces in Iraq had not caused casualties.
After being down as much as 76 points shortly before noon on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index mostly recovered to finish down just 8.8 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 6,817.6 points.
The broader All Ordinaries closed down 13.5 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 6,930.1 points.
"What a wild ride, right?" asked Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir. "It's been pretty volatile. I guess you could say it was a day of two halves."
Tweets by US President Donald Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif worked to ease tensions, calming fears that the conflict was spiralling out of control.
Trump tweeted that "all is well!" while Zarif wrote that Iran had concluded its retaliation and does "not seek escalation or war".
Energy stocks were the biggest gainers, up collectively 0.8 per cent as Brent crude futures spiked to as much as $US71 a barrel before retreating to below $69 as tensions eased..
Woodside gained 1.4 per cent, Santos rose 1.1 per cent and Oil Search gained 0.9 per cent.
Qantas - whose biggest expense is jet fuel - dropped 3.4 per cent to $6.86, while Air New Zealand's ASX-listed shares were down 0.4 per cent to $2.85.
Goldminers gained as gold prices hit a six-year peak of US$1,611 an ounce shortly after the strike, with Newcrest rising 4.0 per cent, Regis Resources gaining 3.7 per cent and Evolution closing up 2.1 per cent.
Elsewhere in the mining sector, BHP gained 0.1 per cent to $39.57, Rio Tinto dipped 0.9 per cent to $100.86 and South32 dipped 1.8 per cent to $2.75.
Independence Group rose 6.3 per cent to a nine-year high of $6.91 after announcing its first half nickel, copper and gold production in Western Australia had had beaten guidance despite bushfires disrupting deliveries and haulage at its two Western Australia mines.
Tech shares were the biggest losers, collectively down 1.2 per cent, with Afterpay dropping 1.1 per cent to $30.08 and Xero down 1.7 per cent to $80.65.
WiseTech Global dipped 3.3 per cent to $23.15 after the logistics software company acquired a Swiss freight forwarding solutions provider for $15.5 million.
After being down between 1.4 and 1.2 per cent in morning trade, the big four banks recovered most of their losses.
Commonwealth and ANZ were both down 0.4 per cent, to $80.90 and $24.86, respectively, while NAB and Westpac were both down 0.3 per cent, to $24.82 and $24.54, respectively.
Investment companies had a bad day, with Pendal Group, Pinnacle Investment Management, Platinum Asset Management and Challenger Limited all down between 3.1 and 5.3 per cent.
Coalminer Yancoal fell 7.0 per cent, while Whitehaven Coal, New Hope Corporation and Soul Pattinson dropped between 2.7 and 3.1 per cent as Australia's bushfire crisis increased pressure on the federal government to crack down on the fossil fuel industry.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was buying 68.73 US cents, down from 69.17 US cents when the ASX closed on Tuesday.
In cryptocurrency, Bitcoins were trading for over $A12,000 for the first time since mid-November, up 6.6 per cent from Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 8.8 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 6,817.6 points.
* The All Ordinaries was up 13.5 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 6,930.1 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed down 12 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,752 points.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT
One Australian dollar buys:
* 69.73 US cents, from 69.17 US cents on Tuesday
* 74.43 Japanese yen, from 74.96 yen
* 61.64 euro cents, from 61.83 cents
* 52.36 British pence, from 52.57 pence
* 103.47 NZ cents, from 103.85 cents
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