The Australian share market has fallen for a second straight day as Wall Street tumbled and several influential stocks traded without the right to their latest dividends.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 0.7 per cent at 5,973.3 points at 1630 AEDT, a similar size fall to Wednesday’s session.
Bell Direct equities strategist Julia Lee said it was late losses on Wall Street, rather than the big stocks trading ex-dividend, that saw the market drop.
“Together those ex-dividend companies took about nine points off the index, but now that reporting season is over we are taking our leads from offshore,” Ms Lee said.
The S&P 500 index dropped 1.1 per cent on the possibility of four interest rate hikes in the US in 2018, more than had been previously expected.
The interest rate speculation, sparked by comments from new US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell this week, has buoyed the US dollar, sending the Australian dollar to its lowest level since Boxing Day.
The local currency fell as low as 77.17 US cents, with weaker-than-expected December quarter capital expenditure figures also a factor in its fall.
Among the stocks trading ex-dividend were Woolworths, which dropped 1.9 per cent, Rio Tinto shed 4.1 per cent, Fortescue Metals Group fell 1.8 per cent and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank was four per cent weaker.
The energy sector retreated alongside global oil prices, with Oil Search down 4.5 per cent, Woodside Petroleum down two per cent, Origin Energy down 1.7 per cent and Santos was 1.4 per cent weaker.
ANZ was the weakest of the major banks, dropping 0.9 per cent.
Explosives and fertiliser maker Orica fell 3.5 per cent to a three-month low of $18.00 after it said it will include writedowns and provisions totalling nearly $400 million in its first-half earnings due in May.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 42.7 points, or 0.71 per cent, at 5,973.3 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 41.6 points, or 0.68 per cent, at 6,075.7 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 40 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 5,9561 points.
* National turnover was 3.6 billion securities traded worth $6.5 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 77.25 US cents, from 77.97 US cents on Wednesday
* 82.54 Japanese yen, from 83.48 yen
* 63.38 euro cents, from 63.76 euro cents
* 56.18 British pence, from 56.08 pence
* 107.29 NZ cents, from 107.74 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,312.81 per fine ounce, from $US1,317.80 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9786pct, from 1.9978pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6962pct, from 2.7492pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.26 (implying a yield of 2.74pct), from 97.205 (implying a yield of 2.795pct) on Wednesday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.915 (2.085pct), from 97.89 (2.11pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)