A late dive amid light volumes has seen the Australian share market finish lower on the last day of the year, confirming 2018 as the worst 12 months for the bourse since 2011
The S&P/ASX200 index closed down 7.9 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 5645.0 at an earlier-than-usual close of 1410 AEDT on Monday.
The market had been ahead as 33.6 points, at 5693.6, as late as 1310 AEDT.
Meanwhile, the broader All Ordinaries closed 6.6 points, or 0.12 per cent, lower at 5715.0, having also been higher throughout the day.
The ASX has slipped 9.04 per cent since September – the worst quarter since September 2011 – with the benchmark also enduring its worst year in seven, down 6.9 per cent amid wider global volatility.
Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston said a flat end to the year was to be expected given lower volumes at play.
‘As you’d expect on a day like today, we’re 46 per cent below the 30-day average,’ he said.
‘The index has been shrugging along… we’ve seen it dip late, whether that’s people paring back some risk going into the final session, or it could be delayed reaction to poor China manufacturing data.’
Mr Weston said fears over global growth and manufacturing loomed as one of the major concerns heading into 2019.
‘Liquidity had been sucked out of markets because of downright pessimism,’ he said.
‘At the heart of it is US and Sino relations – Donald Trump would be rubbing his hands together at (China manufacturing data) because he’s got some leverage now.’
The big Australian banks and miners held onto earlier gains but property stocks, industrials and consumer staples weighed on the market as the final session for 2018 came to a close.
Rio Tinto finished up 0.5 per cent to $78.47 and BHP climbed 0.82 per cent higher to $34.23, while Fortescue Metals gained 1.21 per cent after naming the preferred contractor for the $57 million stage one earthworks for its Eliwana Rail Project.
Gold miner Newcrest rose 3.46 per cent to $21.80 on a near six-month peak for the precious metal.
Galaxy Resources shares were trading 2.69 per cent lower after the company issued a cautious statement on vetting potential partners for its flagship Argentinian lithium project.
Northern Star was unchanged after fellow miners Rand and Tribune rejected its $150m offer for their 49 per cent stake in a WA gold project.
Commonwealth Bank was the best performer of the big lenders, up 0.67 per cent to $72.39 in a solid day for the financial sector.
Telco stocks pared earlier gains but were still well ahead in the final session before 2019.
Telstra gained 0.71 per cent to $2.85, Seven West Media shares were up 1.85 per cent to 55 cents, Domain Holdings rose 1.36 per cent to $2.23 and Event Hospitality stocks were up 2.72 per cent to $13.60.
The energy sector took a late dive while Wesfarmers fell 0.95 per cent to $32.22.
Supermarkets Coles, down 2.17 per cent, and Woolworths, down 0.44 per cent, rounded out a poor day for consumer staples.
Afterpay Touch shares were 2.14 per cent higher at $12.40 to help the tech sector leap ahead by more than a percentage point.
Stocks in the property sector fell 2.21 per cent.
The Aussie edged higher, buying 70.62 US cents, up from 70.48 on Friday.
Meanwhile, the ASX is closed on New Year’s Day and will resume trade at 1000 AEDT on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 7.9 points, or 0.14 per cent to 5646.4
* The All Ordinaries was down 6.6 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 5709.4.
* At 1415 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 13 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 5594.0.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1415 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 70.62 US cents, from 70.48 on Friday
* 78.01 Japanese yen, from 78.02
* 61.76 euro cents, from 61.54
* 55.66 British pence, unchanged from 55.66
* 105.15 NZ cents, from 105.05
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1415 AEDT was $US1,278.05 per fine ounce, from $US1,277.30 on Friday.