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Sunday 21

April, 2019 4:39 AM



ASX closes flat bolstered by strong miners

ASX closes flat bolstered by strong miners

Australian shares are flat at the close following a subdued day of trading.

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By AAP 01.02.2019 05:02 PM

The Australian share market has closed flat after a subdued final day of trading with early gains in the mining sector keeping stock prices afloat.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 1.9 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,862.8 points at 1630AEDT on Friday while the broader All Ordinaries was down 2.0 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,935.3.

January was a robust month on the ASX market, however this week's lead-up to February has been far more muted during the shorter trading week.

"The weekly performance of the market is down just over half a per cent, so we are looking to break a solid set of weeks of strong gains," CommSec market analyst James Tao told AAP.

Mr Tao said earlier gains made at the open were hampered by Chinese data which came through weaker than expected.

"A manufacturing PMI reading came through earlier today which was the catalyst that prompted our market to pull back around lunchtime," Mr Tao said.

With the big four banks bracing for the release of the financial services royal commission report findings on Monday banks continued to weigh on the market.

Westpac edged into positive territory up 0.12 per cent to $24.58, while the rest of the big four closed down in the red.

Commonwealth Bank finished down 0.21 per cent to $69.76, while ANZ finished 0.4 per cent lower at $24.93 as did NAB down 0.29 per cent to $23.79.

A tumble in oil prices overnight prompted energy stocks to pull back after putting in strong performances earlier in the week.

Origin, Oil Search and Santos were between 0.77 and 1.96 per cent lower, while Woodside was down 1.28 per cent.

Caltex managed to lift 1.27 per cent higher to $27.18.

As iron ore prices continue to march higher Fortescue Metals led the charge up 3.36 per cent to $5.84. while mining giant BHP was up 0.49 per cent to $35.00 and Rio Tinto increased 0.6 per cent to $87.57.

Bluescope Steel was up 0.48 per cent to $12.51, while South32 wavered, falling 0.85 per cent to $3.50.

Elsewhere in the market private hospital operator Healthscope, which agreed to a $4.5 billion takeover by Canadian investment firm Brookfield was up 3.81 per cent to $2.45.

After suffering steady losses throughout the week Qantas finished down 2.21 per cent to $5.32 after announcing on Friday they had bought 20 per cent of Alliance Aviation with intentions to grab an even larger stake of the airline.

The Aussie dollar was lower, buying 72.39 US cents from 72.69 US cents on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index down 1.9 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,862.8 points at 1630 AEDT on Friday

* The All Ordinaries was down 2.0 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,935.3.

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 3 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5,801.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.39 US cents, from 72.69 US on Thursday

* 78.82 Japanese yen, from 79.05

* 63.28 euro cents, from 63.19

* 55.26 British pence, from 55.37

* 104.75 NZ cents, from 105.15

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1317.92 per fine ounce, from $US1320.58 on Thursday.

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