Australian shares have closed lower in the wake of another overnight collapse on Wall Street but local losses were relatively contained as many Asian markets tumbled steeply.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended Friday down 0.9 per cent at 5,838.0 points, leaving it down 4.6 per cent for the week.
In late trading Japan’s Nikkei was down about three per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 3.6 per cent lower and the Shanghai Composite Index had retreated 4.5 per cent.
Bell Direct equities strategist Julia Lee said the relatively modest losses on the ASX were not surprising considering the recent rise in local shares has been more subdued than the soaring gains in US indices ahead of the rout that set in on January 26.
“The Australian market is being a little more rational, a little less panicked,” she said.
Ms Lee said in the midst of the Australian earnings season, stocks with strong fundamentals such as National Australia Bank, were still delivering results despite the surrounding volatility.
National Australia Bank closed one cent higher at $28.91, a day after returning a three per cent improvement on first-quarter cash earnings, while Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and the ANZ all lost between 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent.
Elsewhere, oil prices continued to lose ground, pushing Woodside down 1.6 per cent and Santos down 2.2 per cent.
Origin Energy ended 4.1 per cent lower at $8.41, after flagging a $533 million first-half hit from impairment charges at its Ironbark gas field and its recently sold Lattice Energy business.
Iron ore players BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were both around one per cent lower at $29.13 and $76.86 respectively despite a rising ore price, while Fortescue gained 0.6 per cent to $5.03.
As investors looked to safe haven assets, the gold miner Evolution gained 4.5 per cent
Consumer companies had some of the worst losses with China-facing vitamins supplier Blackmores down 4.3 per cent to $154.01 and infant formula maker Bellamy’s down 5.5 per cent to $13.67.
Shares in Myer hit a fresh all-time low, dropping 9.3 per cent to 58.5 cents after the department store chain warned of more writedowns, poor holiday sales and dire trading conditions.
At the close of Australian trading US futures were higher as government went into technical shutdown after Congress failed to pass a funding bill by a midnight deadline.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar has slipped against the US dollar as traders seek safe havens such as the Japanese Yen
The Aussie was trading at 77.76 US cents at 1700, from 78.25 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 52.7 points, or 0.89 per cent, at 5,838.0.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 57.7 points, or 0.96 per cent, at 5,937.5 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 60 points or 1.0 per cent at 5,752 points.
* National turnover was 3.5 billion securities traded worth $8.0 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 77.76 US cents, from 78.25 on Thursday
* 84.78 Japanese yen, from 85.81 yen
* 63.43 euro cents, from 63.76 euro cents
* 55.76 British pence, from 56.27 pence
* 107.87 NZ cents, from 108.72 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,317.60 per fine ounce, from $US1,311.66 per fine ounce on Thursday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.977pct, from 2.0116pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8082pct, from 2.8392pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.145 (implying a yield of 2.855pct), from 97.115 (implying a yield of 2.885pct) on Thursday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.87 (2.13pct), from 97.82 (2.18pct)
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)