SYDNEY, AAP – Falling iron ore prices were weighing on some of the biggest companies on the ASX and were keeping the market subdued.

China wants to limit steel makers’ impact on the environment and investors have reassessed how much demand there might be for iron ore.

Market giant BHP was down by 2.35 per cent to $51.89 at 1200 AEST on Friday.

Company leaders have not given up on the oil trade and said they will spend $US544 million on an oil project in the Gulf of Mexico.

Other major iron ore providers also lost share value.

Fortescue Metals decreased by 1.26 per cent to $22.97 while Rio Tinto sunk 1.83 per cent to $129.70.

Technology shares were up two per cent but there was limited improvement in other categories.

Financials were higher by 0.34 per cent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 1.7 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 7512.8.

The All Ordinaries was up three points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7782.6.

The subdued trading comes as Victorians endured joining millions of people in NSW and southeast Queensland in lockdown.

Victorians must stay at home for seven days due to the same COVID-19 Delta strain which has affected other states.

In the US, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed at record levels after strong corporate earnings and a further decline in unemployment claims.

Layoffs dropped to their lowest level in more than 21 years last month as American companies held on to workers amid a labour shortage.

Focus will shift to US jobs data due at the end of the trading week. Analysts say a disappointing number might raise questions about economic recovery from the pandemic.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has trimmed its economic growth forecast for this year.

That would see annual growth at four per cent at the end of this year rather than 4.75 per cent as previous predicted.

In its quarterly statement on monetary policy, the central bank is sticking to its forecast made in February for a five per cent unemployment rate at the end of 2021.

On the ASX, property advertising group REA has improved full-year profit by 18 per cent after house prices soared during the pandemic.

The News Corp-owned company, which owns the realestate.com.au website, said net profit after tax climbed to $318 million.

The fully-franked final dividend of 72 cents per share was better than the previous one of 55 cents per share.

Yet investors were not impressed and sent shares lower by 4.8 per cent to $159.24.

In banking, there were minor gains for most shares.

ANZ was one of the best and rose 0.49 per cent to $28.37.

In the strongest category, technology, Afterpay improved in a strong week.

The buy now, pay later provider gained 5.14 per cent to $131.70.

Afterpay shares surged earlier in the week after US payments provider Square made a $39 billion offer for all shares.

The Australian dollar was buying 73.88 US cents at 1200 AEST on Friday, lower from 73.93 US cents at Thursday’s close.