The Bull

Monday 22

April, 2019 6:22 PM



ASX closes flat after late afternoon rally

ASX closes flat after late afternoon rally

The Australian sharemarket has closed up ever so slightly after being down for most of the day, on a busy day for economic indicators.

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By AAP 21.03.2019 05:01 PM

Australian shares closed up a whisker following a late afternoon rally after spending most of the day in the red during a busy day for economic indicators.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index bounced up 28 points in the final 40 minutes of trade to close up 1.9 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 6,167.2 points at 1615 AEDT on Thursday. The broader All Ordinaries was up 1.7 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,253.5.

Miners were the biggest gainers, up collectively 0.97 per cent, with BHP gaining 1.29 per cent to $37.68 and Rio Tinto up 1.53 per cent to $93.50.

Tech shares led decliners, down 0.6 per cent, with Xero falling 1.3 per cent to $49.35 and Afterpay Touch dropping 1.25 per cent to $20.50.

The US Federal Reserve began the day by suggesting that no interest rate hikes were likely this year because US economic activity had slowed, a reversal of the Fed's forecast from December.

"This certainly was more dovish than the market was expecting," said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer with Rakuten Securities.

But curiously, world markets didn't respond by rallying - perhaps because US President Donald Trump also suggested on Thursday that US tariffs on China could linger - or perhaps because the market has reached a turning point, Mr Twidale said.

"To me it could be the start of a topping out in the stock market rally we've seen for the first few months of 2019."

However the Aussie dollar showed its strength, shooting up 0.42 per cent after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the unemployment rate fell to 0.1 points to 4.9 per cent.

But employment only rose by 4,600 in February, less than the 15,000 jobs economists had expected.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman called the results mixed.

"While the headline job numbers disappointed, the Aussie jobless rate has a '4' handle in front of it. The unemployment rate is the equal lowest in a decade," he said in a note.

The big banks were mixed, with CBA up 0.48 per cent to $71.13, ANZ up 0.38 per cent to $26.45, Westpac down 0.04 per cent to $26.33 and NAB down 0.44 per cent to $24.96.

Macquarie Group was down 1.5 per cent to $126.83, while Telstra was up 0.61 per cent to $3.28.

Energy stocks were up after US oil prices hit a four-month high overnight, with Woodside Petroleum up 0.48 per cent and Oil Search up 1.37 per cent.

Brickworks was up 0.88 per cent, to $18.28, after the building products supplier reported its first-half profit rose 18.1 per cent to $114.6 million.

Washington H Soul Pattinson was up 0.73 per cent after the investment company said first-half profit grew 22.6 per cent.

Sigma Healthcare was down 0.91 per cent after the owner of the Amcal and Guardian pharmacy brands said its profit dropped 33.7 per cent, to $36.5 million.

It also said it would close drug distribution centres in Shepparton, Victoria; Newcastle, NSW and Launceston, Tasmania later this year and lay off 300 employees and let go 200 agency staff.

The Aussie dollar is buying 71.46 US cents, from 70.76 US cents on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 1.9 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 6,167 points at 1630 AEDT on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 1.7 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 6,253.5.

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down seven points at 6155.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.46 US cents, from 70.76 US on Tuesday

* 78.98 Japanese yen, from 78.94

* 62.58 euro cents, from 62.36

* 54.10 British pence, from 53.51

* 103.28 NZ cents, from 103.53

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