SYDNEY, AAP – Australian shares faltered as investors watch to see whether the rousing run from the previous week will resume.
Investors had minor losses on Monday after talk of a peace deal in Ukraine helped produce the best ASX week in more than 12 months.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is ready to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin but will not surrender the heavily bombed city of Mariupol to the invaders.
IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda said this week would show whether the ASX rally was a reflection of easing concerns about the war and monetary policy, or just a response to technical factors like options expiry.
Commodity prices have boomed since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, bolstering major ASX share categories such as materials.
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The higher prices have also helped the Australian dollar. The dollar has been buying 74 US cents since Saturday.
Westpac head of New Zealand strategy Imre Speizer said the Aussie dollar had been the strongest currency in the G10 since the invasion.
The surge in energy and metals prices would strengthen Australia’s trade surplus, he said.
However, he expected the dollar to make limited gains in the next three months due to expected US rate hikes.
On the market, technology shares were best and gained two per cent.
There were losses of one per cent each for industrials and healthcare.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 15.9 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 7278.5 points.
The index is a little more than 300 points from its record high in August last year.
The All Ordinaries index closed lower by 12.3 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7558.9 points.
In company news, logistics group Qube will run a $400 million off-market share buyback.
The company will buy shares for $1.61 each plus a dividend before the end of May.
The move follows Qube’s sale of the Moorebank Logistics Park.
Qube was up one per cent to $3.05.
Wesfarmers had its proposed takeover of Australian Pharmaceutical Industries approved by the Federal Court.
The Bunnings owner’s $753 million takeover bid for the Priceline pharmacy operator would pay investors $1.53 per share.
Wesfarmers was up less than one per cent to $50.68.
Australian Pharmaceutical Industries was little changed at $1.53.
Financial software provider Link Group has revealed an offer for its banking and credit business has not progressed to a sale.
LC Financial Holdings in February made the offer.
Meanwhile Dye & Durham Corporation remains on track to buy Link by July for $2.9 billion.
Link was up one per cent to $5.15.
Fund manager Magellan’s previous chairman Hamish Douglass resigned from the board.
His departure was for medical reasons.
The company is searching for a replacement independent director.
Magellan was down four per cent to $15.06.
Most of the banks moved a little lower. ANZ was best and was little changed at $27.58.
The big miners were all higher but had eased from greater heights earlier. BHP, Fortescue and Rio Tinto each gained less than one per cent. The smaller BlueScope and South32 were each higher by one per cent.
The Australian dollar was buying 73.98 US cents at 1725 AEDT, higher from 73.82 US cents at Friday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 15.9 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 7278.5 points on Monday.
* The All Ordinaries index closed lower by 12.3 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7558.9 points.
* At 1725 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down six points, or 0.08 per cent, at 7230 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.98 US cents, from 73.82 cents on Friday
* 88.23 Japanese yen, from 87.99 yen
* 67.01 Euro cents, from 66.81 cents
* 56.22 British pence, from 56.26 pence
* 107.24 NZ cents, from 107.24 cents.