The Australian stock market has closed lower, weighed down by the heavyweight financials and ailing healthcare shares.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 31.4 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 5,874.2 at 1630 AEDT on Tuesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 31.6 points, or 0.53 per cent, lower at 5,939.5.
“There is an overall cautious tone ahead of some important events coming up in the next few weeks”, Michael McCarthy, chief market analyst with CMC Markets told AAP.
“But despite the pressures particularly on commodity markers, the Aussie market today provided reasonable results.”
Some of the pressures squeezing down the market include China’s falling profits, and the end of the US government shutdown.
The Aussie dollar fell buying 71.65 US cents from a high of 72.03 US cents on Monday, after a weak reading of business activity in December renewed worry that interest rates might be cut this year.
A slump in oil prices meant Beach Energy was down 3.53 per cent to $1.64, Oil Search down 2.58 per cent to $7.56 and Caltex also falling 0.22 per cent to $26.65.
But a jump in iron ore prices to a 10-month high has pulled up some of the major miners following the deadly Minas Gerais disaster in Brazil.
Shares for mining giant BHP were up 2.09 per cent to $33.74, Rio Tinto was up 3.8 per cent to $83.53, and Fortescue Metals rose 4.79 per cent to $5.03.
South32 was up 2.43 per cent to $3.37 while BlueScope Steel wavered, lowering 0.24 per cent to $12.39.
Following the announcement the banking royal commission would hand down their report into misconduct in the finance sector next Monday, the big four banks weighed heavily on the ASX.
ANZ led losses down 2.33 per cent to $25.58, Westpac was down 2.28 per cent to $25.29, Commonwealth Bank lowered 1.64 per cent to $71.35 while NAB fell 1.94 per cent to $24.26.
Sleep device manufacturer ResMed continues its slide, down 10.44 per cent at $12.96 after reporting results on Friday which fell short of market expectations.
Telco TPG shares were up 3.02 per cent to $7.17 despite announcing they had halted construction on Australia’s newest mobile network because of a ban on using equipment from China’s Huawei.
Telstra rallied on this news, climbing 7.77 per cent to $3.19 at the close.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 31.4 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 5,874.2.
* The All Ordinaries was down 31.6 points, or 0.53 per cent, lower at 5,939.5.
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 35 points, or 0.60 per cent, at 5,816.0.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 71.65 US cents, from 70.99 US on Friday
* 78.30 Japanese yen, from 77.91
* 62.68 euro cents, from 62.68
* 54.50 British pence, from 54.04
* 104.68 NZ cents, from 104.86
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1303.93 per fine ounce, from $US1282.31 on Friday.