ASX falls as US political dramas mount – Wednesday 16:30 AEST

Derek Rose
(Australian Associated Press)


The Australian share market has fallen after an overnight sell-off on Wall Street as more political instability rocks the United States.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed on Wednesday down 38.7 points – or 0.57 per cent – to 6,710.2 points while the broader All Ordinaries was down 41.9 points – or 0.61 per cent – to 6,814.7 points.

The drop came after Donald Trump gave a speech at the United Nations denouncing Iranian “bloodlust” and House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry against the American president.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy called the Australian market’s performance reasonable given the sharper 0.8 per cent drop in the S&P 500.

“It’s a bit of a much of muchness day,” he said.

Afterpay Touch was the standout, soaring 13.3 per cent to a fresh all-time high of $36 after an external auditor hired by the buy now, pay later company handed an interim report on Afterpay’s compliance with anti-money laundering laws to Australia’s financial intelligence agency.

“The market was impressed that they’ve been able to engage successfully with AUSTRAC,” Mr McCarthy said, adding that broker upgrades also helped.

Elsewhere, the energy, materials and telecom sectors were down between 1.2 and 1.6 per cent, with energy the hardest hit after the price of oil dropped two per cent.

Beach Energy dropped 5.6 per cent, Oil Search was down 2.7 per cent and Senex Energy dropped 7.6 per cent.

Miners fell as base metal prices dropped, with BHP down 1.9 per cent to $36.53, Rio Tinto down 2.2 per cent to $91.01 and Fortescue Metals down 2 per cent to $8.57.

Goldminers gained as the price of the precious metal rose to nearly $US1,530 an ounce, with Newcrest and Saracen Minerals up 1.1 per cent and Northern Star rising $11.70.

Utilities and property trusts were also higher, up 0.6 per cent and 0.4 per cent, as investors sought safety in bond proxies.

Westfield shopping centre owner Scentre Group rose 1.3 per cent, Charter Hall gained 1.0 per cent and ALE Property Group climbed 3.1 per cent.

The big banks were mixed, with Commonwealth down 0.6 per cent to $81.58, Westpac down 0.1 per cent to $29.89, NAB flat at $29.92 and ANZ up 0.4 per cent to $28.40.

Fonterra, which is due to report its full-year results on Thursday, was up 1.3 per cent after the New Zealand dairy giant announced it would sell its stake in drug supplier DFE Pharma.

Retail Food Group was down 5.41 per cent after the troubled Donut King and Gloria Jeans owner said it was still considering an equity raising.

Qantas rose 0.7 per cent after its Jetstar subsidiary announced it was cutting five regional routes in New Zealand, while Air New Zealand climbed 2.8 per cent on the prospects of reduced competition.

Cryptocurrency prices plunged across the board for a second day, with Bitcoin down 12.8 per cent to fall under the $US9,000 mark for the first time since June.

On Australian exchanges, one Bitcoin was trading for around $A12,500 or $US8,540.

The Aussie dollar is buying 67.80 US cents, up from 67.72 US cents on Tuesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 38.7 points, or 0.57 per cent, at 6,710.2 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed down 41.9 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 6,814.7 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed down 47 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 6,688.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.80 US cents, from 67.72 US cents on Monday

* 72.79 Japanese yen, from 72.85 yen

* 61.63 euro cents, from 61.61 cents

* 54.36 British pence, from 54.42 pence

* 107.21 NZ cents, from 107.62 cents.


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