Australian shares have finished lower, with investor caution and a weak Wall Street lead robbing the local market of momentum on Monday.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 21.8 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 6,278.4 points at 1615 AEST on Monday, while the All Ordinaries was down 22.7 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 6,368.8 points.
On Friday, the benchmark index climbed 0.9 per cent and hit a 10-year closing high.
Telstra was one of the few bright points on Monday, the telco lifting five cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $2.81 after announcing a shakeup of its senior executive ranks that includes the hiring of former SBS boss Michael Ebeid.
Shaw and Partners senior private client adviser Craig Sidney said trading was quiet and turnover light across the market as investors await the start of the local earnings season, particularly after a negative lead from the US on Friday night.
“Most of the quarterly (reports) are out of the way over the last couple of weeks from the miners so there’s just a lack of news flow from companies and also on the economic front as well,” Mr Sidney said.
“People are biding their time to see what happens with the reporting season here.”
In other company news, Ardent Leisure stocks slipped six cents, or three per cent, to $1.95 as the owner of the Dreamworld theme park on Queensland’s Gold Coast flagged a full-year loss of $84 million to $94 million.
Among Monday’s biggest drags was BHP, which fell 0.6 per cent to $34.19 on the high likelihood of a labour strike at its Escondida mine in Chile.
After meetings last week, workers at the world’s largest copper mine rejected the company’s final contract offer and agreed to vote on whether to strike.
Rio Tinto dropped 1.1 per cent to $80.45 ahead of kicking off the Australian corporate earnings season with its half-year results on Wednesday.
General weakness in financial stocks weighed on the main board: Commonwealth Bank and ANZ led the losses, down 0.6 and 0.5 per cent at $74.90 and $29.32 respectively.
In contrast, wealth manager AMP closed over 4 per cent higher at $3.44, regaining much of its losses from Friday when it flagged the financial impact from the Royal Commission inquiry into financial sector misconduct.
The Australia dollar was at 73.93 US cents at 1700 AEST, just up from 73.88 US cents on Friday and after having ranged above 74 US cents over the weekend.
The Aussie got a slight leg up late Friday from a weaker greenback after US gross domestic product data failed to enthuse markets.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 21.8 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 6,278.4 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 22.7 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6,368.8 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 25 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 6,226 points at 1630 AEST
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.93 US cents, from 73.88 US cents on Friday
* 82.154 Japanese yen, from 82.018
* 63.43 euro cents, steady
* 56.39 British pence, from 56.40
* 108.72 NZ cents, from 108.93
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,220.03 per fine ounce, down from $US1,223.54 per fine ounce on Friday.