The Australian share market has closed lower but did claw back some earlier losses as the Dow Jones futures index pointed to a possible positive session on US markets tonight.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index ended Monday down 17.3 points, or 0.3 per cent at 5,820.7 points, with all sectors except for information technology and materials in the red.
CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said the improvement on the Australian bourse in afternoon trading reflected the rally in US futures, with Dow Jones futures 0.6 per cent higher at 1630 AEDT.
“In circumstances like this, where volatility in the US is the main source of concern, I think that is giving a bit of support to our market and to Asian markets,” Mr Spooner said.
US markets and global markets have been highly volatile in recent trading as investors consider the potential for rising inflation in the US, and for a greater number of interest rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve than is already expected.
Mr Spooner said the release of US inflation data on Thursday morning (Australia time) was an event that could send markets significantly higher or lower.
On the local bourse, a slide in oil prices of more than three per cent on Friday hit energy stocks.
Woodside Petroleum fell 0.3 per cent to $31.30, Santos eased 0.4 per cent to $4.82, but Oil Search was steady at $7.38.
Among the big banks, ANZ fell 0.7 per cent to $27.70, Westpac dropped 0.7 per cent to $30.14, Commonwealth Bank backtracked 0.5 per cent to $75.88, and National Australia Bank dipped 0.8 per cent to $28.68.
The banking royal commission started in Melbourne on Monday morning with an opening address from the commissioner and counsel assisting, ahead of hearings starting in a month’s time.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank was off 23 cents, or 2.1 per cent, at $11.00 after it lifted first-half cash profit 10.7 per cent to $225.3 million, boosted by mortgage rate rises and an increase in residential lending.
Consumer stocks were weaker, led by JB HiFi.
JB Hi-Fi slumped $2.25, or eight per cent, to $25.86 after the electronics retailer’s first-half profit lifted but the company warned of margin pressures and issued lower-than-expected guidance.
In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton gained 1.5 per cent to $29.56, Rio Tinto climbed 1.5 per cent to $78.00, and Fortescue Metals surged 2.4 per cent to $5.15
Among other stocks, rail freight operator Aurizon lifted nine cents, or 2.0 per cent, to $4.69, after its first-half profit has jumped 52 per cent from the previous corresponding period, when its accounts were weighed down by impairments and one-off items.
Protective gloves and clothing supplier Ansell descended 96 cents, or 3.9 per cent, to $23.86 despite lifting its full-year outlook for earnings per share from its continuing businesses.
Global packaging company Amcor was up eight cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $14.38.
Amcor lifted its half-year net profit 15 per cent to $US329.7 million ($A461.6 million) thanks to expanded margins, strong returns and progress on key investments.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was back above 78 US cents after a retreat by the US dollar and a slight improvement in sentiment towards the Aussie, Mr Spooner said..
The Aussie was trading at 78.35 US cents at 1700 AEDT, up from 77.76 US cents on Friday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 17.3 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5,820.7 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 17.8 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5,919.7 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 12 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 5,740 points.
* National turnover was 2.1 billion securities traded worth $4.5 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 78.35 US cents, from 77.76 on Friday
* 85.16 Japanese yen, from 84.78 yen
* 63.79 euro cents, from 63.43 euro cents
* 56.51 British pence, from 55.76 pence
* 107.80 NZ cents, from 107.87 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,323.40 per fine ounce, from $US1,317.60 per fine ounce on Friday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9948pct, from 1.9770pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8582pct, from 2.8082pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.095 (implying a yield of 2.905pct), from 97.145 (implying a yield of 2.855pct) on Friday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.840 (2.160pct), from 97.87 (2.13pct).