Australian shares have closed barely lower, with banks and consumer stocks among the few sectors to record gains as energy and mining stock weakness weighed on the market.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 0.02 per cent at 6,014.6 points on Thursday, with softer commodity prices compounding heavy losses in the energy sector.
Disappointing trading updates weighed on the energy sector.
Woodside Petroleum shed 0.8 per cent to $33.40 after announcing full-year 2017 production that was down by 11.1 per cent on 2016 and inside, albeit at the lower end of, revised guidance.
Whitehaven Coal shares sank 6.2 per cent to $4.40 after the coal miner cut its full-year production guidance due to slowed production at its Narrabri mine, although the company posted a strong first half result.
Santos lost 1.5 per cent to $5.21 and Origin Energy fell 0.7 per cent to $9.13 as the broader energy sector shed 1.1 per cent.
A fall in commodity prices left the miners mixed.
Shares in BHP Billiton rose 0.1 per cent to $30.78 after the global miner reported a big lift in first-half copper production and maintained full-year guidance, while Rio Tinto gained 0.5 per cent to $78.83 and Fortescue Metals, up 0.7 per cent in morning trade, fell away at the close to finish 0.2 per cent lower at $5.14.
CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said the local market got the worst of a high Australian dollar refusing to match a drop in commodity prices.
“With the high dollar deterring international investors and potentially derailing economic growth and yet weaker commodity prices also dragging down earnings its little wonder we have had a bad day,” Mr McCarthy said.
Westpac led the big banks, up one per cent to $30.95 while Commonwealth Bank was the worst performer, down 0.3 per cent to $79.90.
A surprise jump in Australia’s unemployment rate sent the Aussie dollar lower after it breached the 80 US cent mark in Wednesday night trading.
Despite ABS data showing jobs grew in Australia for a record-equalling 15th consecutive month, the local currency dropped from 79.7 US cents ahead of the jobs numbers to 79.66 US cents at 1630 AEDT, having gone as low as 79.44 US cents during the session.
Mr McCarthy said a positive surprise on jobs would generally be supportive of the currency, which has baulked at 80 US cents.
“Following the high in trading today at 79.97 (US cents), once it was not able to crack that, the short sellers have moved in and taken the edge off it,” Mr McCarthy said.
ON THE ASX AT 1630 AEDT:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 1.2 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 6,014.6 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 3.9 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6,130.4 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up eight points, or 0.13 per cent, at 5,952 points
* National turnover was 4.5 billion securities traded worth $5.4 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 79.7 US cents, from 79.51 on Wednesday
* 88.58 Japanese yen, from 88.14 yen
* 65.31 euro cents, from 64.92 euro cents
* 57.62 British pence, from 57.71 pence
* 109.27 NZ cents, from 109.80 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,328.46 per fine ounce, from $US1,334.36 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0754pct, from 2.0734pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7676pct, from 2.7391pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.18 (implying a yield of 2.82pct), from 97.20 (implying a yield of 2.80pct) on Wednesday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.745 (2.255pct), from 97.775 (2.225pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)