SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market is on course for its heaviest loss of the month, a day after closing at its highest level during the pandemic.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was lower by 43.5 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 7038.8 at 1200 AEST.
The index on Thursday closed higher by 0.25 per cent to 7082.3, its highest level since February last year.
The All Ordinaries on Friday was down by 42.4 points, or 0.57 per cent, to 7303.6 points.
The biggest loss was in health shares, 1.36 per cent. Market giant CSL fell 1.19 per cent to $270.21.
There were losses of more than one per cent for energy and consumer staples shares.
Oil prices were lower as concerns lingered of wider lockdowns in India and Brazil to curb COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the US S&P 500 closed at a record high, fuelled by gains in Facebook following its strong earnings report.
Facebook rallied 7.3 per cent to a record high after the world’s largest social network beat quarterly revenue and profit expectations.
US economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fuelled by massive government aid to households and businesses.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.71 per cent to end at 34,060.36 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.68 per cent to 4,211.47. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.22 per cent to 14,082.55.
On the ASX, AMP has at its annual general meeting flagged restarting its share buyback that was put on hold last year.
The wealth manager announced an up to $200 million share buyback in August 2020, but put it on hold the next month after announcing a review of its business portfolio.
Shares were down 2.42 per cent to $1.10.
Beach Energy plunged 22.76 per cent to $1.29 after it scrapped its five-year outlook.
The company is producing less oil from the Cooper Basin.
Biotech Mesoblast was up 7.92 per cent to $1.97, having claimed encouraging results in a trial of a cell therapy to treat people with COVID-19.
The company said its therapy, called remestemcel-L, greatly reduced deaths among 123 patients under the age of 65.
Mesoblast is aiming to have the therapy approved for use.
Buy now, pay later provider Sezzle said it would have an initial public offer of stock in the US.
Details such as size and timing are still to be decided.
Sezzle said merchant sales on its platform during the March quarter rose 214.1 per cent on the same quarter last year to $US375.1 million ($A492.5 million).
Shares were higher by 7.88 per cent to $9.58.
ANZ declared its first-half cash profit would be lower by $817 million, due to a accounting losses and write-downs.
Shares were down 0.17 per cent to $28.89. ANZ was best of the big four and Bendigo, which all had losses of less than one per cent.
The big miners were mixed. BHP declined by 1.17 per cent to $48.09, Fortescue rose 0.31 per cent to $22.65 and Rio Tinto dropped 0.54 per cent to $122.55.
The Australian dollar was buying 77.77 US cents at 1200 AEST, lower from 77.95 US cents at Thursday’s close.