Australia Markets closed

ASX disappoints again with 55-point drop

Derek Rose
The futures market is pointing to a positive start for the ASX

The Australian share market has fallen, with every sector save one in the red, after US President Donald Trump threatened to escalate his trade war with China if the two countries can't reach a deal.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed on Wednesday down 54.7 points, or 0.81 per cent, to 6,698.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 51.6 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 6,805.5 points.

"A disappointing day for Australian investors, once again," said CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy, who said the index had underperformed its international leads or the broader region in nine of the last 13 days.

Investors are concerned about both the escalating situation in Hong Kong and fears that the US and China won't reach an interim trade deal, as they were supposed to this week, Mr McCarthy said.

The market was down fairly evenly across sectors, except for tech stocks which rose 0.8 per cent as a whole.

EML Payments helped the sector as it resumed trading up 15 per cent following a five-day trading halt to raise $156 million to fund its acquisition of UK prepaid card company Prepaid Financial Services.

Elsewhere in the sector, Appen climbed 6.0 per cent, Data#3 gained 5.2 per cent and Xero climbed 1.2 per cent to hit another all-time high at $77.57.

Also, Afterpay rose 0.6 per cent to $29.37 after declaring its number of active customers had risen 32 per cent to 6.1 million and that its buy now, pay later service would be available on eBay Australia next year.

The big banks were all lower, with Commonwealth Bank falling 2.0 per cent to $79.24, Westpac down 1.3 per cent to $26.44, NAB dipping 1.0 per cent to $28.79 and ANZ down 0.6 per cent to $25.20.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP dropped 0.8 per cent to $36.79, Rio Tinto was down 1.7 per cent to $91.80 and Fortescue Metals fell 2.1 per cent to $8.67.

Goldminers were mixed, with Newcrest up 0.1 per cent and Regis up 0.2 per cent but Evolution fell 0.8 per cent and Northern Star was down 0.4 per cent.

Bingo Industries helped the industrial sector, rising 10.7 per cent to a 13-month high of $2.80 after the waste manager flagged that its full-year underlying earnings could rise as much as 55 per cent.

"On a day when the market is down, that was a strong jump," Mr McCarthy said.

Three other stocks that could be considered value picks - Metcash, Flight Centre and Costa Group - were up between 1.3 and 2.2 per cent, Mr McCarthy said.

Real estate agency McGrath rose 8.8 per cent to hit a one-year high of 31 cents, although that's still well below the $2.10 IPO price.

Eclipx dropped 8.0 per cent to $1.68 after the vehicle fleet leasing company declared a full-year loss of $341.5 million.

In the health care sector, CSL rose 0.2 per cent to $266.91 and probe sterilisation company Nanosonics gained 2.3 per cent to a new all-time high of $6.99.

The Aussie dollar is buying 68.54 US cents, from 68.51 US cents on Tuesday.

It hit a three-week low against the kiwi dollar after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept the official cash rate on hold at 1.0 per cent, rather than the cut many had expected.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 54.6 points, or 0.81 per cent, to 6,698.4 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 51.5 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 6,805.6 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed down 53 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 6,691.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 68.54 US cents, from 68.51 US cents on Tuesday

* 74.66 Japanese yen, from 74.79 yen

* 62.14 euro cents, from 62.08 cents

* 53.27 British pence, from 53.25 pence

* 106.96 NZ cents, from 108.12 cents.