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The Australian sharemarket has started the week on a down note, with energy investors appeared spooked by news the world’s largest wealth fund plans to sell its stakes in oil and gas companies.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 23.6 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 6,180.2 points at 1615 AEDT on Monday, while the broader All Ordinaries closed down 23.8 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 6,263.3.

Every sector was down except telecom, with energy shares leading losses, down 1.55 per cent.

The falls follow reports on the weekend that Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund will drop investments in energy explorers and producers, although it will keep shares in integrated oil and gas companies such as BP and Shell.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist with CMC Markets, said while the $US37 billion ($A52.5b) in oil exploration shares being sold off wasn’t actually much in global terms, “it seems to have gripped the imagination today.

“It does look like there’s a bit more fear than greed at the moment.”

Santos, Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search, Origin Energy and Beach Energy were down between 1.73 per cent and 2.44 per cent.

Mining giant BHP was down 0.98 per cent, Rio Tinto down 0.67 per cent, South32 down 0.26 per cent and Fortescue Metals down 2.31 per cent.

Gold stocks jumped after the price of yellow metal jumped one per cent, with Newcrest – which said it bought a majority stake in Canadian copper and gold mine Red Chris – up 3.8 per cent, Northern Star up 4.48 per cent and Evolution Mining up 4.3 per cent.

Telco Telstra was up 0.62 per cent, while pharma giant CSL was down 0.27 per cent.

Shares of Appen were in a trading halt after it agreed to pay as much as $A426 million for artificial intelligence dataset company Figure Eight.

Shares of Perpetual Limited jumped 12.27 per cent on no apparent news, leading to speculation the financial products company was a takeover target, Mr McCarthy said.

The big banks were flat.

Trading was thin because of a public holiday in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

The Aussie dollar is buying 70.42 US cents, from 70.01 US cents on Friday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 23.6 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 6,180.2 points at 1630 AEDT on Monday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 23.8 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 6,263.3.

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index down four points at 6150.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.42 US cents, from 70.01 US on Friday

* 78.22 Japanese yen, from 77.81

* 62.69 euro cents, from 62.56

* 54.26 British pence, from 53.55

* 103.50 NZ cents, from 103.64

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US 1297.70 per fine ounce, from $US1285.38 on Friday.