Australian shares have closed down slightly as an early rally couldn’t be sustained.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 5.4 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 6,174.8 points at 1615 AEDT on Tuesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 2.7 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 6,260.6.

‘Today we had a really good start, and progressively we just had a bit of a fade out,’ said CommSec market analyst James Tao.

Consumer discretionary stocks led decliners, collectively losing 0.68 per cent, after an ANZ-Roy Morgan survey indicated consumer confidence ‘nosedived’ last week amid talk Australia had entered a so-called per-capita recession.

Energy stocks were up 0.65 per cent after oil prices rose following Saudi Arabia declaring it would cut production.

Woodside Petroleum was up 0.75 per cent, Beach Energy up three per cent and Santos was up 1.91 per cent.

The big miners did well even though iron ore prices declined two per cent overnight.

BHP was up 1.07 per cent, Rio Tinto was up 1.27 per cent, and South32 up three per cent.

Gold miners were hit as the price of yellow metal dropped, with Newcrest Mining down 3.81 per cent, Northern Star down 2.57 per cent and Evolution Mining down 0.82 per cent.

The big four banks were all down after NAB interim chief executive Philip Chronican told shareholders that his company had to ‘focus on earning back trust’.

ANZ was down 1.22 per cent, NAB was down 0.47 per cent, Westpac was down 0.63 per cent and Commonwealth was down 0.03 per cent.

Telstra – whose workers were taking symbolic protected industrial action on Tuesday – was down 0.31 per cent, while pharma giant CSL was up 0.14 per cent.

McGrath was flat after the real estate agency announced the resignation of its chief financial officer after 18 months.

Intellectual property firm IPH Limited was up 2.76 per cent after it announced a $197 million hostile takeover bid for Xenith IP, with the shares of the target company jumping 14.02 per cent.

The move aims to disrupt Xenith’s planned merger with QANTM, the other ASX-listed intellectual property firm, whose shares dropped 9.15 per cent.

‘It should be interesting to see what happens,’ Mr Tao said.

Appen shares were down 9.15 per cent after completing a $285 million institutional placement to buy US artificial intelligence firm Figure Eight.

On Wednesday, Australian investors will be keeping an eye on Brexit, as a crucial vote scheduled in the UK House of Commons.

The Aussie dollar is buying 70.68 US cents, from 70.42 US cents on Monday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 5.4 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 6,174.8 points at 1630 AEDT on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 2.7 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6,260.6.

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up nine points at 6182.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.69 US cents, from 70.42 US on Friday

* 78.66 Japanese yen, from 78.22

* 62.81 euro cents, from 62.69

* 53.55 British pence, from 54.26

* 103.29 NZ cents, from 103.50


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1296.37 per fine ounce, from $US1297.70 on Friday.