Australian shares have fallen as Westpac traded ex-divided and the industrial and healthcare sectors lost ground.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 12.7 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 6,094.3 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 10.9 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 6,197.2 points.
CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy says the Australian market largely ignored a strong lead from the US, and is still less than two per cent away from a 10-year high despite the softer session.
“It’s pretty clear that the Australian market at the moment is marching to its own drummer and that’s further reinforced by the divergence with some of the other markets in the region,” he said.
“Although we are broadly in line with mainland China, the Nikkei (in Tokyo) has gone ahead by three quarters of a per cent today.”
Westpac was a major drag on the market as it traded ex-dividend, falling 3.7 per cent to $29.10, clawing more than 12 points out of the benchmark index.
ANZ added 0.8 per cent to $27.99, Commonwealth Bank gained 0.5 per cent to $71.16 and National Australia Bank was 0.3 per cent higher at $27.60.
The materials sector was boosted by stronger commodity prices, with Rio Tinto climbing 2.4 per cent to $86.75 and BHP Billiton adding 1.3 per cent to $34.44.
Santos dropped 1.9 per cent to $6.20 after news US private equity firm Harbour Energy lodged a binding takeover proposal that did not increase the offer value of US10.4 billion.
In the industrial sector, Brambles dropped 2.3 per cent to $9.39, while toll road owner Transurban shed 1.7 per cent to $11.36 after the competition watchdog flagged concerns over the company’s interest in taking a majority stake in Sydney’s WestConnex motorway.
Major healthcare stocks also lost ground, with blood products and vaccines supplier CSL retreating 1.5 per cent to $175.69 and hearing implant developer Cochlear down 1.1 per cent to $195.32.
Penfolds maker Treasury Wine Estates tumbled 6.2 per cent to $16.90 after reports it is facing a supply glut in China, which raises doubts over the sustainability of its rapid growth there.
The company released a statement saying it is comfortable with the sustainability of its operating model in China.
Employment data for April showed a slight rise in the jobless rate to 5.6 per cent, but there were also a better than expected 22,600 jobs created.
The Australian dollar gained around one third of a US cent in the half hour after the release of the employment figures.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 12.7 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 6,094.3 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 10.9 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,197.2 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 10 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 6,109 points
* National turnover was 2.9 million securities traded worth $6.4 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.34 US cents, from 74.84 US cents on Wednesday
* 83.22 Japanese yen, from 82.47 yen
* 63.83 euro cents, from 63.21 euro cents
* 55.70 British pence, from 55.40 pence
* 109.38 NZ cents, from 108.75 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,289.48 per fine ounce, from $US1,294.58 on Wednesday
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 5.75 per cent May 2021, 2.2416pct, from 2.2191pct on Wednesday
* CGS 2.25pct May 2028, 2.9212pct, from 2.8836pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.065 (implying a yield of 2.935pct), from 97.105 (2.895pct) on Wednesday
* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.71 (2.29pct), from 97.735 (2.265pct)
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)