Disappointing Chinese trade data has given Australia’s mining and energy sectors a whack and kept the broader market flat after what promised to be a positive start to the week.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 1.2 points, or 0.02 per cent, lower at 5,773.4 at 1630 AEDT on Monday as early gains on US-China trade hopes evaporated.
The broader All Ordinaries was down 1.6 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,833.2.
The energy sector proved the biggest drag thanks to subdued oil prices, while the big miners also turned negative late in the day on news China’s trade surplus had dropped 16.2 per cent from the year before, marking the country’s lowest surplus since 2013.
Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the data’s impact on local mining and energy shares was to be expected, given Australia’s dependence on China for growth.
‘The important thing we were watching for was those China numbers coming in, and unfortunately they were quite disappointing,’ she said.
‘Perceptions of slowing global growth have been having an impact on the economy and market, and I’d say the larger question for investors in 2019 is whether it will keep rolling over and how serious it is going to be.’
The big miners finished the day in the red, with BHP dropping 0.24 per cent to $32.71 and Rio Tinto down 0.31 per cent to $79.40.
South32 was flat at $3.40, while Bluescope Steel plunged 5.17 per cent to $11.55 and Fortescue Metals dipped 1.31 per cent to $4.52.
Gold miners Newcrest retreated after earlier gains, down 0.17 per cent to $23.75, with Northern Star and Evolution eking out rises of 0.43 and 0.53 per cent respectively.
The energy sector stayed down after oil prices fell two per cent in offshore trade on Friday, ending a nine-day rally.
Shares in Santos fell 0.17 per cent to $5.83, Woodside Petroleum dropped 0.54 per cent to $33.08, and Oil Search shed 0.79 per cent to $7.55.
Origin Energy was down 1.14 per cent to $6.91, Beach Energy was flat at $1.565, and Soul Pattinson dropped 0.42 per cent to $26.05.
Caltex shares were 0.38 per cent lower at $26.51, with coal miners Yancoal and Whitehaven dropping 5.44 and 3.59 per cent respectively.
Wesfarmers shares also pulled the bourse lower, with the retail giant dropping 2.16 per cent, or 69 cents, to $31.26 after announcing a disappointing Christmas period for Kmart.
Coles supermarket rose 3.12 per cent to $11.89, regaining ground after two sessions in the red, with Costa Group Holdings also rebounding 4.35 per cent to $4.85 after suffering a near 40 per cent loss on Friday on weaker demand for fruit and veg.
Dongfang Modern Ag climbed 2.0 per cent to $1.02 on a record harvest.
Seven West Media rose 4.72 per cent to 55.5 cents and Nine Entertainment shares jumped 4.59 per cent to $1.48 in a solid session for telcos.
Property advertiser REA Group rose 2.13 per cent to $73.73 and Hutchison climbed 9.09 per cent to 12 cents.
ANZ was the best performer of the big banks, up 0.53 per cent to $25.37, followed by Westpac and NAB.
The Aussie dollar has eased to 71.85 US cents, after topping out at a three-week peak of 72.35 US cents on Friday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 1.3 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 5,773.4
* The All Ordinaries was down 1.6 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 5,833.2
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 12 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 5,716.0
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 71.86 US cents, from 72.16 on Friday
* 77.69 Japanese yen, from 78.17
* 62.61 euro cents, from 62.60
* 55.95 British pence, from 56.53
* 105.59 NZ cents, from 105.77
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1,291.04 per fine ounce, from$US1292.62 on Thursday.