Miners drag ASX down, $A hits 7-week high

Derek Rose
(Australian Associated Press)


The Australian share market has closed lower, dragged down by the mining giants and health care stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 21 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 6,256.4 points at 1615 AEST on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 22 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 6,350.3.

The Aussie dollar moved higher on better-than-expected China data, breaking 72 US cents to hit as high as 72.06 cents, a level not seen since February 21.

The move came after China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced the country’s industrial output expanded 6.5 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, topping expectations of a 6.3 per cent rise.

Miners dipped after courts in Brazil said Vale’s Bructu mine could resume operations within 72 hours.

The mine’s suspension after a dam disaster in January had caused shortages of iron ore and driven up the price.

BHP dropped 2.72 per cent to $38.30, Rio Tinto was down 4.74 per cent to $96.40 and Fortescue Metals dropped 8.52 per cent to $7.41.

Gold miners also wilted as the precious metal sunk to its lowest price for the year so far.

Pharma giant CSL dragged the health care sector down, with shares in the company dropping 1.87 per cent to $193.03.

Tech stocks were also in the red, with Afterpay Touch down 5.89 per cent to $23.34 and Wisetech Global down 5.81 per cent to $21.90.

But Megaport gained 9.96 per cent to $5.41 – an all-time high – after the Brisbane networking-as-a-service company reported new networking partnerships and several new “cloud on-ramps” including one in Toronto.

Dulux Group shares soared 27.12 per cent to $9.75 after Japanese paint giant Nippon made a $3.8 billion offer to buy the Australian paint and coating company for $9.80 per share.

Dulux’s board is backing the buyout, which would preserve the company’s name, operations and leadership team.

The big four banks were also higher, with Westpac gaining 1.51 per cent to $26.81, Commonwealth up 0.83 per cent to $73.29, ANZ up 1.17 per cent to $26.72 and NAB up 0.92 per cent to $25.24.

The telecommunication sector did well, with Telstra gaining 2.13 per cent to $3.36, its best level in a year, and Vocus gaining 4.04 per cent to $3.86, equalling its best level in two-and-a-half years.

Nick Twidale, chief operating officer of Rakuten Securities, said he expected shares to keep operating in a range until there was more certainty regarding the US-China trade war and Brexit.

“There’s still this bit of caution regarding investor sentiment and risk,” he said.

“We’re sitting in this almost dead zone, waiting for something that’s going to either spur markets on or cause a correction.”

The Aussie dollar is buying 71.95 US cents, from 71.50 US cents on Tuesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 21 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 6,256.4 points at 1630 AEST on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 22 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 6,350.3.

* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was flat at 6,239.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.50 US cents, from 71.50 US on Tuesday

* 80.57 Japanese yen, from 79.99 yen

* 63.61 euro cents, from 63.21 euro cents

* 55.10 British pence, from 54.61 pence

* 106.77 NZ cents, from 105.79 cents


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