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ASX dips on losses from leaders CSL, CBA

Derek Rose

Falls by market giants CSL and Commonwealth Bank have caused the Australian sharemarket to finish in modestly negative territory.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 15.5 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 6,063.6 points at 1615 AEDT on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 8.6 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 6140.1.

"Despite global markets lifting on the prospect of a trade deal coming between US and China, the Aussie market is weaker today," said CommSec market analyst James Tao.

Pharmaceutical giant CSL was down 3.92 per cent, despite a 6.8 per cent rise in first-half profit, while CBA fell 2.89 per cent after going ex-dividend.

Taken together, the dip by the two companies amounted to a 23-point fall in the ASX, more than amounting for the day's losses.

CBA shares dropped $2.12 to $71.21. The company has declared a $2 a share interim dividend on March 28.

CSL's shares dropped $7.60 to $186.09, a one-month low.

Mr Tao said while CSL's 6.8 per cent increase in profits was "generally a pretty positive result," investors were disappointed that the company hadn't increased its earnings guidance for the year.

"It did fall a touch shy of shy of expectations," he said. "On the face of it, it was a pretty decent result, but sometimes shareholders just want more and more and more."

A number of other companies also reported earnings, with shares in gold miner Northern Star, stock transfer company Computershare and Adelaide oil and gas company Beach Energy up between 5.33 and 7.47 per cent on positive earnings results.

On the flip side, Tabcorp shares dropped 3.98 per cent and Carsales.com shares dropped 5.42 after both companies' earnings reports disappointed investors.

The Aussie dollar strengthened, buying 71.34 US cents, from 70.81 US cents on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 15.5 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 6,063.6 points at 1630 AEDT on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 8.6 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 6,140.1.

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 5 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 6023.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.30 US cents, from 70.81 US on Tuesday

* 78.87 Japanese yen, from 78.27

* 62.90 euro cents, from 62.77

* 55.25 British pence, from 55.04

* 104.10 NZ cents, from 105.21

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1313.69 per fine ounce, from $US1310.26 on Tuesday.