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ASX closes lower as energy stocks drop

Derek Rose
The futures market suggests the Australian share market will open lower

The Australian share market has finished lower after the price of oil plunged, sending energy stocks into a tailspin.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished down 35.8 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 6,456 points at 1615 AEST on Friday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 38.7 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6,545.6.

It was the second straight day of losses, but for the week the ASX closed up 1.42 points behind Monday's strong performance.

"We've outperformed most markets around the world," said CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian, noting overseas indices were down between one and four per cent for the week.

He credited the surprise federal election results and growing talk of several rate cuts for the Australian market's comparative resilience.

Most sector were down on Friday though, with energy shares down 3.1 per cent after the price of oil dropped more than five per cent overnight following concerns the US-China trade war was heating up.

Woodside Petroleum was down 3.5 per cent to $35.70, Santos down 3.2 per cent to $6.98, Worley Parsons down 3.2 per cent to $13.28 and Oil Search down 2.8 per cent to $7.37.

Tech shares were down 1.7 per cent following losses in the US, with Afterpay Touch down 4.4 per cent to $23.98 and Altium down 4.2 per cent to $29.60.

The heavyweight financial sector was down 0.5 per cent but the big four banks were mixed.

ANZ was down 0.4 per cent to $27.84 and Westpac down 0.1 per cent to $28.12, while NAB and Commonwealth Bank were both up three cents, to $25.81 and $78.18, respectively.

Consumer staples shares were down two per cent as a whole, with Woolworths 2.7 per cent lower and Coles down 3.4 per cent.

Aristocrat Leisure was up 2.7 per cent, to $29.17, after a number of brokers lifted price targets for the gaming company following Thursday's announcement its profit was up 15 per cent for the half-year.

In the materials sector, BHP was up 0.4 per cent to $37.45, while Fortescue Metals was down 1.6 per cent to $8.22.

Sydney Airport was up 1.33 per cent despite announcing subdued growth in passenger numbers in the first four months of 2019.

Legend Corporation shares shot up 20.1 per cent to 37.5 cents after the electronics firm flagged support for an $80 million all-cash takeover by Adamantem Capital.

Healthscope shares had their last day of trading on the ASX after the Federal Court gave final approval to Brookfield Asset Management's $4.4 billion takeover.

Cooper Energy will replace the private hospital operator on the ASX200 index on Monday.

The local currency fell sharply after Westpac economist Bill Evans said he expected the central bank to cut interest rates three times before the end of the year, but then recovered in the afternoon.

At 1703 AEST Aussie dollar was buying 68.92 US cents, from 68.71 US cents on Thursday.

Looking forward, Mr Daghlian said traders would be watching the European parliamentary elections, ongoing now across Europe, for signs that Euro-skeptic parties were gaining ground.

The United Kingdom and US markets will be closed for holiday on Monday, while on Tuesday, the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence index will show the first consumer confidence figures since the federal election.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 35.8 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 6,456 points at 1630 AEST on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 38.7 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6,545.6.

* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was flat at 6,464.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 68.92 US cents, from 68.71 US cents on Thursday

* 75.53 Japanese yen, from 75.76 yen

* 61.58 euro cents, from 61.67 cents

* 54.36 British pence, from 54.47 pence

* 105.61 NZ cents, from 105.89 cents