ASX closes lower to be just ahead for week: Wednesday 26 August

Steven Deare
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Investors erased almost all the gains of Australia’s share market this week and sold-off banks as the main indices finished lower.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index fell to a session low of 6079.8 points before it finished down 45.0 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 6116.4 on Wednesday.

The All Ordinaries index closed lower by 37.5 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6294.5.

While the US S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit all-time closing highs prior to the Aussie market opening, these results were largely driven by tech giants.

QVG Capital portfolio manager Josh Clark said cyclicals on the ASX made good gains in recent days from optimism about economic recovery from the coronavirus, but traders sold them on Wednesday.

Financials were among them and finished 1.18 per cent lower.

The big four banks were all down more than one per cent.

Telecommunications and utilities had the greatest losses – 1.98 and 1.93 per cent respectively.

Mr Clark said participation by retail investors remained high.

ASX management has said many people have turned to the share market after losing work amid the pandemic.

Mr Clark was surprised by retailer investors’ strong interest in buy now pay later provider Zip Co.

It hit a record high of $9.95 and finished 27.48 per cent higher to $9.65 after a partnership with eBay.

“That’s a reflection of how optimistic some market participants are,” Mr Clark said.

Cash flow and profitability were often overlooked by less experienced players, he said.

Meanwhile, Australian construction data defied expectations and posted only a modest fall in the June quarter, supported by a strong engineering sector.

Construction work completed in the June quarter declined by 0.7 per cent, seasonally adjusted, to $50.1 billion, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

The result appeared to have no impact on the market.

There were some heavy losses as reporting season continued.

Whitehaven Coal shed 95 per cent in full-year net profit to $30 million.

Management blamed lower coal prices and did not pay a final dividend. The 2019 final dividend was 30 cents per share (including special dividend).

Despite the result, Whitehaven said there was a positive long-term outlook due to demand for coal in Asia to make alloys, cement and steel.

Shares finished down 18.07 per cent to $1.02.

Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group has suffered a 42 per cent decline in full-year profit and was dragged down by its media and energy businesses.

The group reported net profit after tax of $115.8 million, lowered by impairments to Seven West Media and gas provider Beach Energy.

Yet the group paid the same final dividend as 2019 of 21 cents per share, fully franked.

Shares finished lower by 0.57 per cent to $19.07.

The heavyweight mining sector was mixed. BHP slipped 0.76 per cent to $38.02, Rio lost 1.6 per cent to $99.29 and Fortescue climbed 1.19 per cent to $18.72.

There were record highs for some companies including homewares provider Adairs ($3.61), IT outfit Appen ($43.66), and buy now pay later provider Sezzle ($10.30).

The Australian dollar was buying 71.93 US cents at 1721 AEST, higher from 71.76 US cents at Tuesday’s close.

ON THE ASX

  • The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index finished down 45.0 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 6116.4 on Wednesday.
  • The All Ordinaries index closed lower by 37.5 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6294.5.
  • At 1721 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was trading lower by 4.0 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 6,076 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

  • 71.93 US cents, from 71.88 US cents on Monday
  • 76.50 Japanese yen, from 75.99 yen
  • 60.93 Euro cents, from 60.79 cents
  • 54.74 British pence, from 54.79 pence
  • 109.87 NZ cents, from 109.84 cents
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