A strong performance by the energy and mining sectors was not enough to save the Australian share market from being weighed down by troubled financials at the close.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 22 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 5,864.7 at 1630 AEDT on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 13.9 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 5,937.3
“Overall if you look at the performance of the Australian share market for January, it’s pretty good results,” CommSec markets analyst James Tao said.
“The ASX is up about 4.5 per cent which is the best monthly performance we’ve seen in more than two years.”
Stocks in the mining sector continue to soar as the fallout from the deadly Brazil mining disaster coupled with Chinese demand for iron ore helped elevate export prices.
The price index of Australian metal ore and metal scrap exports rose 9.0 per cent in the three months since September, and 17.8 per cent for the year-to-date, according to data released on Thursday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Shares for mining giant BHP closed up 0.66 per cent to $34.83 while Fortescue Metals rose 4.24 per cent to $5.65 after it reported a five per cent rise in second-quarter iron-ore shipments.
Beach Energy lifted 5.57 per cent to $1.80 after it raised its production guidance for fiscal 2019 citing better-than-expected output in the first half of the year.
Rising oil prices have continued to bolster the energy sector with Oil Search rising 2.23 per cent to $7.81 and Santos up 2.54 per cent to $6.47.
But the heavyweight big four banks continued to weigh down the market with investors bracing for a tough final report from the financial services royal commission that is due to be released publicly on Monday.
Westpac led the losses, down 2.54 per cent to $24.55.
“As we near closer and closer to the big reveal on Monday, the fact that the report will be released after markets close has made people a little bit jittery as to what might happen,” CommSec markets analyst James Tao said.
Commonwealth bank finished 1.87 per cent lower at $69.91, as did ANZ down 1.77 per cent to $25.03, and NAB was down 1.61 per cent to $23.86.
A surge in tech stocks was boosted by Facebook’s strong results in the US, and the sector was the strongest performer of the day.
Altium Limited was up 3.92 per cent to $24.95, Wisetech Global rose 4.36 per cent to $20.34 and Xero lifted 8.77 per cent to $43.53.
Following a solid start to the week Telstra shares have fallen 2.51 per cent over the day to $3.11.
This comes as Optus announces their 5G broadband network is live, making it the first carrier in Australia to commercialise the technology.
Elsewhere Qantas stocks slid 2.68 per cent to $5.44, as engine troubles and a weaker tourism market rocked rival Air New Zealand’s earnings forecast on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
*The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 22 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 5,864.7
*The All Ordinaries was down 13.9 points, or 0.23 per cent, lower at 5,937.3
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 23 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 5,804
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
*72.69 US cents, from 71.95 US on Wednesday
*79.05 Japanese yen, from 78.66
*63.19 euro cents, from 62.90
*55.37 British pence, from 54.96
*105.15 NZ cents, from 105.06
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1320.58 per fine ounce, from $US1313.74 on Wednesday.