SYDNEY, AAP – There was plenty of concern among share market investors after Russian troops entered Ukraine and the ASX languished.
The market was down 0.81 per cent on Tuesday following Russian troops moving to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine after recognising them as independent.
European and US leaders have for weeks been warning of a Russian invasion. The troops’ move could scuttle plans for US and Russian leaders to meet and resolve the dispute about western nations’ support for the smaller nation.
Overnight, European markets closed lower following the Ukraine developments. Wall Street was closed for a public holiday.
Russia is a major oil producer and the oil price was higher as the possibility of economic sanctions loomed. Brent crude last traded for $US95.39 per barrel.
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Energy stocks on the ASX were up one per cent on the higher oil prices.
Most share categories were lower. Technology fared worst and lost three per cent.
Financials, consumer discretionaries and telecommunications were next worst and lost one per cent each.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 59.1 points, or 0.81 per cent, to 7174.5 points at 1200 AEDT.
The index is 458 points below its record high in August, 7632.8 points.
In the current trading day, the All Ordinaries index was lower by 66.9 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 7440.1 points.
In Australia, concern about inflation is having a dampening impact on consumer confidence as petrol prices continue to scale new heights.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index – a pointer to future household spending – fell 1.4 per cent, despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in parts of the country and the reopening of international borders.
The Australian Institute of Petroleum said the national petrol price average in the past week rose by a further 2.2 cents to a record 179.1 cents per litre.
On the ASX, supermarket giant Coles continues to have higher costs weigh on its bottom line.
It had already incurred COVID-19 costs of $30 million in January, but this moderated in February.
Coles posted a two per cent drop in first-half profit to $549 million. The company kept its fully-franked interim dividend at 33 cents per share.
Coles was up three per cent to $17.29.
Hearing implant designer Cochlear will pay a higher interim dividend and retained its better full-year earnings forecast.
First-half net profit after tax dropped 28 per cent despite sales improving 12 per cent.
Investors will receive an unfranked interim payout of $1.55 per share, which is 35 per cent more than the same payout this time last year.
Cochlear was up seven per cent to $203.80.
The big banks were all lower. The Commonwealth Bank fared worst and shed two per cent to $96.00.
In mining, BHP and Rio Tinto each shed one per cent to $47.67 and $118.56 respectively. Fortescue dropped half a per cent to $19.51.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.97 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower than 72.00 US cents at Monday’s close.