Australian shares have closed flat on Wednesday, with gains for energy and material stocks not doing enough to overcome losses elsewhere on the market.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended down 1.7 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,195.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 1.6 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,290.5 points.
CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said the energy sector was the strongest performer, supported by oil prices rising more than two per cent after US officials told oil importers to stop buying oil from Iran from November.
Oil prices were also supported by supply disruptions in Libya and Canada.
Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy gained between 0.6 and 2.2 per cent.
Resource giant BHP Billiton, which has a big petroleum business, also benefited from the higher oil price, closing 1.8 per cent higher at $33.23.
“Overall, the market is still around the best level in a decade, but the market can be unpredictable as we head into the end of the financial year,” Mr Daghlian said.
The last trading day for the 2018 financial year will be on Friday, and traditionally it tends to be quite volatile, Mr Daghlian said.
“On average, there’s been a gain of about one per cent or so on the last day of the financial year at least over the past 10 years,” he said.
The financial sector closed lower, with three of the nation’s big four banks falling between 0.1 and 0.6 per cent.
The jump in the oil price hurt national carrier, Qantas, which fell 2 per cent to $6.33.
Investment bank Macquarie Group and poker machines group Aristocrat Leisure finished higher, thanks to a stronger US dollar as both companies derive a chunk of their earnings in the US.
The Australian dollar came under pressure against a strengthening US greenback as sharp losses in China’s yuan added to concerns about the possible impact of tariffs on global trade and growth.
The local currency was trading at 73.75 US cents at 1630 AEST, down from 74.04 US cents on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 1.7 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,195.9 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 1.6 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,290.5 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 15 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 6,137 points at 1630 AEST.
* National turnover was 3.3 billion securities traded worth $6.8 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.83 US cents, from 74.07 on Tuesday
* 81.07 Japanese yen, from 81.25 yen
* 63.29 euro cents, from 63.36 euro cents
* 55.80 British pence, from 55.82 pence
* 108.23 NZ cents, from 107.68 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,257.27 per fine ounce, from $US1,263.317 per fine ounce on Tuesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent cent May 2021, 2.0805pct, from 2.0946pct
* CGS 4.75pct May 2028, 2.6282pct, from 2.6417pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* September 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.365 (implying a yield of 2.635pct) from 97.345 (2.655pct) onTuesday
* September 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.9 (2.1pct) from 97.885 (2.115pct).