The Australian share market has ended the final trading day of the financial year on a sour note after a late afternoon sell-off, as energy stocks fell despite soaring oil prices and healthcare and financial stocks retreated.
After losing ground in morning trade, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 headed north in the early afternoon before plunging in the last half-hour of trade to close down 20.8 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 6,194.6 points on Friday, while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 16.1 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 6,289.7 points.
Healthcare stocks, with vaccines and blood products supplier CSL the biggest drag on the benchmark, slumping 1.1 per cent to $192.62.
Energy stocks ended but ran out of steam despite the price of US crude hitting a three-and-a-half year high.
Woodside Petroleum fell 0.6 per cent to $35.46, Origin Energy was down 0.8 per cent to $10.03, Oil Search softened 0.5 per cent to $8.90 and Santos dropped 0.2 per cent to $6.27.
Patersons Securities economist Tony Farnham said investors may have pulled some cash out of energy stocks ahead of official manufacturing PMI data due out of China on Saturday.
“It’s just a little bit of an opportunity for people to take a little bit of money off the table … just in case those PMI figures have something a little bit untoward,” he said.
The major miners were higher with BHP Billiton jumping 0.3 per cent to $33.91 and Rio Tinto up 0.5 per cent to $83.44.
BHP on Friday announced a payment of $US158 million ($214 million) in remediation and compensation to the Brazilian non-profit foundation it set up in response to the 2015 Samarco mine dam collapse.
Gold miners were mixed as the price of the precious metal fell to its lowest level in more than six months, amid mounting pressure from trade disputes and the expectation of higher US interest rates continuing to weigh on bullion, despite the greenback losing steam.
Newcrest retreated 0.4 per cent to $21.80, Northern Star climbed one per cent to $7.26 and Evolution Mining was steady at $3.51.
The major four banks were mixed, with ANZ the biggest loser, down 1.5 per cent to $28.24, while Westpac gained 0.2 per cent to $29.30.
In companies news, Wattle Health shares soared 31.5 per cent to $1.17 after the Australian company inked a deal with a Chinese distribution business to supply its infant formula range.
Atlas Iron was steady at 4.3 cents after the board unanimously backed Gina Rinehart’s $390 million takeover bid for the junior miner.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was trading at 73.88 US cents at 1630 AEST, up from 73.33 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 20.8 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 6,194.6 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 16.1 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 6,289.7 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 25 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 6,147 points
* National turnover was 2.48 billion securities traded worth $8.01 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.89 US cents, from 73.33 on Thursday
* 81.721 Japanese yen, from 80.92 yen
* 63.49 euro cents, from 63.58 euro cents
* 56.37 British pence, from 56.09 pence
* 109.17 NZ cents, from 108.43 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 0700 AEST was $US1,251.059 per fine ounce, from $US1,250.05 per fine ounce on Thursday