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ASX closes 0.86pc lower, all sectors down

·4-min read

Investors have suffered broad-based losses on the Australian share market ahead of keenly anticipated economic forecasts in Commonwealth Bank's first-half earnings on Wednesday.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 59.5 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 6821.2 on Tuesday.

The All Ordinaries closed down by 58.7 points, or 0.82 per cent, at 7102.1.

Property dived 2.1 per cent, while there were losses of more than one per cent for utilities, industrials, health, consumer discretionaries and information technology.

The ASX's drop was despite most Asian markets trading higher and a good US lead.

Optimism continued in the US after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said if Congress approves Joe Biden's $US1.9 trillion fiscal aid package, the nation could return to full employment next year.

The ASX200 on Monday rose above 6800 points to levels not seen since February, and close to record highs.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda noted investors pushed the ASX200 higher in the opening minutes, but the index failed to rise above 6900 points and traded lower for most of the session.

Stockbrokers watch market movements closely to help decide whether the time is right to invest.

The ASX lull comes before earnings season ramps up and the share market's biggest company, the Commonwealth Bank, reports.

Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir said analysts expected the bank to report first-half cash profit of $3.8 billion.

While that would be lower than the previous first-half cash profit of $4.48 billion, Ms Amir said that was not necessarily the way to evaluate.

"Investors need to look at the consensus and whether it's stronger or lower than what people expected, rather than better or lower than the last one," she said.

The economy is in different times to February last year and endured its first recession in almost 30 years.

In company news, casino giant Crown Resorts has been deemed not fit to run its $2.2 billion Sydney casino because it allowed money laundering and has other problems, a report found.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority will consider the inquiry's recommendations and decide which changes Crown must make before gaming could begin.

Crown shares were in a trading halt prior to the report, and last traded at $10.15.

Macquarie Group closed higher by 6.62 per cent to $143.14 after a third-quarter trading update which said its markets and annuity-style businesses were doing better than the previous corresponding period

The group said its full-year earnings were likely to be slightly down.

Afterpay notched a record price of $159.00 before closing lower by 0.89 per cent to $152.10.

Building materials supplier Boral flagged that subdued construction of units and commercial property could affect second-half earnings, after first-half earnings slipped.

While all forms of building approvals rose 10.9 per cent in December, Boral said it was unclear whether this trend was a response to government stimulus.

Boral reported first-half earnings from continuing operations were down eight per cent to $215 million, compared to the previous first-half.

Shares closed lower by 7.39 per cent to $5.01.

Suncorp reported cash earnings of $509 million for the first half of 2020/21, up 39.5 per cent.

Shares were higher by 2.78 per cent to $10.73.

In banking, the big four each lost more than one per cent.

In mining, BHP lost 0.54 per cent to $44.60, Fortescue gained 0.72 per cent to $23.89 and Rio Tinto shed 0.54 per cent to $116.57.

On Wednesday, insurance giant IAG will also give first-half figures.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.25 US cents at 1722 AEDT, higher from 76.76 US cents at Monday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 59.5 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 6821.2 on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed down by 58.7 points, or 0.82 per cent, at 7102.1.

* At 1722 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was steady at 6754 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.25 US cents, from 76.76 cents on Monday

* 81.00 Japanese yen, from 80.96 yen

* 63.94 Euro cents, from 63.76 cents

* 56.05 British pence, from 55.90 pence

* 106.58 NZ cents, from 106.60 cents.