The Australian share market lost ground on a day of low trading volumes as investors hold fire ahead of the imminent G7 meeting in Canada.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 12.1 points, or 0.2 per cent at 6,045.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 12.6 points, or 0.2 per cent weaker, at 6,156.8 points.
CMC Markets chief markets strategist Michael McCarthy said trading volumes were down by about a third as investors paused ahead of the European Central Bank meeting next week and the G7 meeting, the two-day summit starting in Quebec on Friday with leaders of the US, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, Italy and the host nation.
“If trade issues become live we could see sharp turnarounds in markets and I think caution ahead of those potentially market-changing events is understandable,” he said.
Energy stocks performed well after worries about supply from Venezuela hiked oil prices, with Origin Energy gaining 0.9 per cent to $9.94, Oil Search adding 0.7 per cent to $8.38 and Woodside Petroleum advancing 0.7 per cent to $33.48.
Industrials was the worst-performing sector, with rail freight operator Aurizon Holdings falling 4.2 per cent to a two-year low of $4.14, while Transurban Group retreated 0.8 per cent to $11.67.
Mining giant BHP Billiton dipped 0.03 per cent to $34.07 while rival Rio Tinto rose 0.7 per cent to $86.60 after committing to a $A41 million joint venture with state-owned China Minmetals to explore mineral deposits in China.
The major banks were mixed, with the Commonwealth Bank up 0.2 per cent to $69.37,while Westpac dropped 0.3 per cent to $27.61, ANZ also closed down 0.3 per cent at $26.66 and National Australia Bank softened 0.1 per cent to $26.38.
In companies news, wealth management company AMP climbed 0.3 per cent, to $3.63 despite being removed from the Australian share market’s ASX20 index in the quarterly reshuffle of indices.
Infant formula maker Bubs Australia jumped 6.3 per cent to 85 cents after securing a deal that gives it access to Chinese retail giant Alibaba’s 580 million monthly users.
Gaming giant Tabcorp rose 2.2 per cent, to $4.58 after confirming it is in talks with News Corp’s UK subsidiary to exit the pair’s ailing Sun Bets online gambling venture.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar has faded, falling against a softer US dollar and dropping against the Japanese Yen.
The Aussie was trading at 75.77 US cents at 1700 on Friday, from 76.47 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 12.1 points, or 0.2 per cent at 6,045.2 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 12.7 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 6,156.7 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 13 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 6,049 points at 1630 AEST.
* National turnover was 3.8 billion securities traded worth $4.8 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.77 US cents, from 76.47 on Thursday
* 82.93 Japanese yen, from 84.15 yen
* 64.37 euro cents, from 64.77 euro cents
* 56.50 British pence, from 56.90 pence
* 108.04 NZ cents, from 108.52 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,294.599 per fine ounce, from $US1,297.23 on Thursday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.1766pct, from 2.2237pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7758, from 2.844pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.22 (implying a yield of 2.78pct), from 97.155 (implying a yield of 2.845pct) on Thursday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.785 (2.215pct), from 97.735 (2.265pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)