The Australian sharemarket has closed lower for a fourth straight day, after a vote in the British House of Commons cast the Brexit process into disarray.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 13.6 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6,161.2 points at 1615 AEDT on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 14.6 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 6,246.

“A little bit of a retraction in global investor sentiment on the back of what’s happening on Brexit,” Rakuten Security chief operating officer Nick Twidale said.

The British House of Commons soundly defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU exit plan, 391 votes to 242, 17 days before the UK leaves is due to leave.

The vote overshadowed strong GDP numbers out of the UK.


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Oil stocks on the Australian market were the worst hit, with Woodside Petroleum down 1.29 per cent, Santos down 1.15 per cent and Beach Energy down 2.43 per cent.

But New Hope Corporation moved 4.28 per cent higher after telling investors after the close on Tuesday that its New Acland coal mine on Queensland’s Darling Downs had won environmental approval.

Among mining companies, BHP was down 0.11 per cent, Rio Tinto was down 0.24 per cent and Fortescue Metals was up 0.15 per cent.

An increase in the price of gold overnight boosted Newcrest Mining, up 2.98 per cent, Saracen Mineral, up 5.24 per cent, and Evolution Mining, up 1.11 per cent, while Northern Star – which is trading ex-dividend – fell 0.88 per cent.

The big four banks were mixed, with ANZ up 0.04 per cent, Commonwealth down 0.11 per cent, NAB down 0.44 per cent and Westpac down 0.74 per cent.

Yowie was up 21.43 per cent after the confectionary maker became the subject of a $20 million takeover bid by investment firm Keybridge Capital.

Sigma Healthcare Limited fell 12.3 per cent after the pharmacy operator rejected a takeover offer from Australian Pharmaceuticals Industries as not in shareholder’s interest.

API decided to walk away from the deal instead of making a higher offer, and said it would decide what to do with the 12.85 stake of Sigma it bought last year.

Shares of API, which owns the Priceline and Soul Pattinson brands, were down 3.57 per cent.

Mr Twidale said investors were in a wait-and-see mode and waiting to see what would happen with the US-China trade talks.

US President Donald Trump’s chief trade negotiator said on Tuesday that the talks were progressing daily, and he’d know “before too long” whether a deal was possible.

“We’re in a real status quo, and the status quo is to the downside,” with a big correction possible, Mr Twidale said.

The Aussie dollar is buying 70.58 US cents, from 70.69 US cents on Tuesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 13.6 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6,161.2 points at 1630 AEDT on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 14.6 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 6246.

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 12 points at 6161.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.60 US cents, from 70.81 US on Tuesday

* 78.60 Japanese yen, from 78.84

* 62.56 euro cents, from 62.74

* 53.93 British pence, from 54.16

* 103.18 NZ cents, from 103.22


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1304.11 per fine ounce, from $US1301.45 on Tuesday.