Australian shares have just managed to end a run of weekly falls at the close by the tiniest of margins after an early rally fizzled out.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed down 18.7 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5864.5 points on Friday.
The index was up a mere 0.1 per cent on the week, but ended a run of four consecutive weekly loses.
The All Ordinaries index finished 11.6 points down, or 0.2 per cent, at 6057.6.
Earlier in the day the local market attempted to break the clutches of another nervous performance on Wall Street overnight before again losing ground.
“September is often the month for corrections and we have seen a bit of that so far this month,” AMP Capital head of investment strategy and chief economist Shane Oliver said.
“Despite the volatility Australian shares … managed a small gain over the week.”
A lack of independence from the US was highlighted on Thursday when the market failed to respond to an extremely positive set of jobs numbers.
Even so, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the labour market remained “very challenging” despite a surprise fall in the unemployment rate to 6.8 per cent.
“There is a lot of uncertainty out there in the economy – not just here in Australia but globally – and that’s a reflection of the nature of the virus,” he told Sky News on Friday.
Qantas held on to most of its early gain after the airline reported its CEO Alan Joyce agreed to take an 83 per cent pay cut for the 2019/20 financial year, reflecting its tough trading conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It means Mr Joyce’s pay for the financial year was $1.7 million compared to $9.9 million in 2018/19.
Overall, executives at the airline took a 69 per cent pay cut compared to a year earlier.
Qantas chairman Richard Goyder, releasing the airline’s annual report, said the COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating impact on aviation.
Management and the board have shown important leadership by taking no salary for several months and then a reduced salary for months after that, he said.
Qantas shares closed up 0.5 per cent at $3.98.
Otherwise, market sectors generally ended in the red with financials down 0.6 per cent and energy stocks finishing 0.2 per cent lower despite rising oil prices after OPEC said it would crack down on countries which failed to comply with output cuts.
Miners were higher, however, with BHP rising 1.3 per cent to $37.80.
Among the major banks Commonwealth was down 1.0 per cent at $64.37.
Health stocks were 1.0 per cent lower, with market heavyweight CSL down 1.1 per cent at $282.62.
US stocks fell for a second straight day on Thursday as technology-related shares were undermined by Amazon shedding 2.3 per cent and Apple falling 1.6 per cent.
There were also concerns about a stalling US recovery after Labor Department data showed that while fewer people in the US made new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the number remained extremely high.
The US major indices finished Thursday as much as 1.3 per cent lower.
US shares have been on the back foot since midweek after the US Federal Reserve disappointed some investors who had expected the central bank to step in and fill the void as a new fiscal package remains tied up in the US Congress.
Investsmart market strategist Evan Lucas told Sky News markets are also getting nervous ahead of the November US presidential election, as they traditionally do stretching back to 1928.
“Markets get very, very volatile, they get very, very sporadic and we actually also tend to see an increase in the US dollar. Barring the Aussie dollar/US dollar pair, everything else is tending that way,” he said.
The Aussie dollar was buying 73.15 US cents at 1616 AEST, up from 72.65 US cents at the close on Thursday.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index ended down 18.7 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5864.5 on Friday.
* The All Ordinaries index finished 11.6 points lower, or 0.2 per cent, at 6057.6.
* At 1717 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was trading down five points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5867 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.15 US cents, from 72.65 on Thursday
* 76.65 Japanese yen, from 76.31 yen
* 61.71 Euro cents, from 61.76 cents
* 56.40 British pence, 56.20 pence
* 107.74 NZ cents, from 108.68 cents.