SYDNEY, AAP – Falling BHP shares were keeping the Australian market lower while investors could not shirk concerns about troubled property giant Evergrande.
BHP was down by more than two per cent at 1200 AEST on Friday as materials, healthcare and property shares kept the market lower.
The ASX has bucked a good lead from the US as investors look for confirmation that Evergrande paid a $US83.5 million interest payment to bondholders on Thursday.
The company pledged it would but some investors say they are yet to see evidence.
The company is struggling to pay about $A418 billion in debts and investors fear a collapse could reverberate around the world.
Bank shares on the ASX were mostly higher after bearing the brunt of concerns earlier in the week.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was lower by 31.6 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 7338.6.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 32.3 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 7649.
Energy shares were best after oil prices rose for a fourth consecutive day.
Earlier Wall Street indices closed higher following the US Federal Reserve decision earlier in the week to postpone tapering stimulus.
The easing of the central bank’s bond purchases is expected later in the year, but a rate rise is not likely to follow immediately.
In company news, a US university filed a patent lawsuit against hearing implant maker Cochlear.
The University of Pittsburgh has made claims over a wireless energy transfer system.
The company claimed the patent was invalid and will defend the US court action.
Shares were down 5.29 per cent to $224.50.
Among the big miners, Fortescue and Rio Tinto gained less than half a per cent.
Gold miners slipped after the gold price fell. Evolution lost more than three per cent. Northern Star fell by more than two per cent.
Bank of Queensland was best of the major banks. Shares were up 0.65 per cent to $9.17.
Energy provider APA Group gave more details of its bid for Victorian electricity provider AusNet.
APA said its offer to buy all shares for $2.60 each would create the nation’s largest energy distributor worth $35 billion.
APA’s offer does not require foreign investment review, unlike rival suitor Brookfield’s $2.50 per share offer.
APA shares were little changed at $8.73.
AusNet shares were down 0.58 per cent to $2.56.
Sigma Healthcare has a new boss who is moving from a retail group in South Africa.
Clicks Group chief executive Vikesh Ramsunder has overseen its stores including Clicks, The Body Shop and Claire’s.
He will replace Mark Hooper.
Shares were down 1.63 per cent to 60 cents.
The Australian dollar was buying 72.95 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 72.43 US cents at Thursday’s close.