SYDNEY, AAP – Shares on the Australian market have slipped slightly, following the US lead, and most sectors were lower.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 10.3 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 6846.6 at 1200 AEDT on Thursday.
The All Ordinaries was down by 13.8 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 7120.0.
Financials and health were lower by 0.21 per cent, while information technology had the greatest decline of 2.02 per cent.
The materials sector was the standout, up by 1.04 per cent.
US markets were mostly lower as investors moved from big tech stocks to energy shares.
The move came as oil prices rose for a ninth day, supported by producer supply cuts and hopes vaccine rollouts will drive demand.
Investors shrugged off remarks by US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who reassured investors that interest rates will remain low to spur the economy and jobs growth, but gave no new insights on monetary policy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.97 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 31,437.8, the S&P 500 lost 1.35 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 3,909.88 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 35.16 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 13,972.53.
Earnings reports continued on the ASX.
AMP shareholders will not receive a final dividend for 2020 after the financial services provider endured a tough 12 months and takeover talks with Ares Management fell through.
AMP was advised by US-based Ares that it will not continue with its $1.85 per share takeover bid, but talks about AMP Capital continue.
In full-year results, AMP reported an underlying net profit of $295 million, compared with $439 million the previous year, reflecting the impacts of COVID-19.
Shares were down about nine per cent to $1.39.
Telstra’s first-half profit slipped 2.2 per cent to $1.1 billion, after phone sales and global roaming declined during the pandemic, as well as other revenue.
The carrier said net profit after tax was down after COVID-19 and the continued costs of customers migrating to the National Broadband Network reduced earnings.
Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of eight cents per share, including a special dividend of three cents per share. The payout was the same as at this time last year.
Shares were up 2.36 per cent to $3.24.
Energy generator and retailer AGL reported a massive bottom-line loss and says the outlook for the rest of this financial year looks challenging.
The net loss was $2.3 billion for the six months ended December, compared to a profit of $323 million in the previous corresponding half year.
AGL will pay a first-half dividend of 41 cents per share.
Shares were up 0.44 per cent to $11.21.
Crown Resorts has promised “root and branch’ changes to satisfy regulators threatening to deny it a Sydney gaming licence, ahead of the April expiry of the venue’s liquor licence.
Crown chair Helen Coonan has acknowledged a damning inquiry report into the group’s activity that found “serious conduct, culture and compliance issues that clearly do not accord with our values”.
Two directors aligned to majority shareholder and non-director James Packer have already quit Crown’s board.
Shares were higher by 0.91 per cent to $9.90.
Commonwealth Bank shares were higher by 0.65 per cent to $86.68 after Wednesday’s first-half earnings. The other members of the big four were lower.
In mining, BHP was up 1.07 per cent to $45.54, Fortescue gained 0.67 per cent to $23.91 and Rio Tinto climbed 1.61 per cent to $119.33.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.13 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 77.38 US cents at Wednesday’s close.