The Australian share market has closed lower on concerns around a possible US government shutdown, while the Aussie dollar is trading at a four-month high.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended Friday down 0.15 per cent at 6,005.8 points, with losses by the miners, energy and telcos overpowering strong gains by the healthcare and retail stocks.
The local dollar was trading at 80.13 US cents, up from 79.70 US cents on Thursday.
For the week the S&P/ASX200 shed 1.1 per cent, as US indices forged to new highs.
Strong commodity prices and a US dollar weakened by fears of a US government shutdown as the deadline looms for Congress to pass a new spending bill are behind the Aussie dollar’s lift.
Positive economic news out of China on Thursday night also helped the currency, with China’s economy growing faster than predicted in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Charles Schwab market analyst Ben Le Brun said the local share market was taking its cues from lower US futures, which forecast a weak Friday for Wall Street as US leaders race to keep the government open.
“With a little bit of uncertainty around Wall Street, some of the defensive sectors are doing well today, in particular healthcare,” Mr Le Brun said.
“There’s also a spate of profit taking happening across the miners and energy given substantial gains across those sectors in recent weeks.”
Among the major miners, Rio Tinto dropped one per cent to $78.01, BHP Billiton declined 0.3 per cent to $30.69 and Fortescue Metals shed 0.4 per cent to $5.12.
In the healthcare sector, blood products giant CSL lifted 1.1 per cent to $143.93, ResMed rose 0.7 per cent to $11.10 and Sonic Health climbed 0.6 per cent to $23.40.
In the retail-related consumer staples sector, Coles’ owner Wesfarmers and rival Woolworths were higher with gains of 0.4 per cent each.
The banking sector was mixed but moved in a narrow band, with National Australia Bank, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and Macquarie Group’s losses ranging from 0.1 per cent to 0.2 per cent, while ANZ gained 0.1 per cent to $28.56.
Telstra was off 1.4 per cent to $3.57 and fellow telco Vocus declined 1.7 per cent to $2.95.
In company news, Retail Food Group’s shares sank 5.1 per cent to $2.07, hitting a nine-year low as a law firm said it was investigating a possible class action against the Donut King, Brumby’s Bakery and Gloria Jean’s owner on behalf of disgruntled franchisees.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 8.8 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6,005.8 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 11.1 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,119.3 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was down two points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,950 points
* National turnover was 4.5 billion securities traded worth $5.2 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 80.14 US cents, from 79.70 on Thursday
* 88.87 Japanese yen, from 88.58 yen
* 65.37 euro cents, from 65.31 euro cents
* 57.62 British pence, from 57.62 pence
* 109.79 NZ cents, from 109.27 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,331.58 per fine ounce, from $US1,328.46 per fine ounce on Thursday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.1071pct, from 2.0754pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8191pct, from 2.7676pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.125 (implying a yield of 2.875pct), from 97.180 (implying a yield of 2.820pct) on Thursday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.715 (2.285pct), from 97.745 (2.255pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)