Australia markets closed

Australian share market drops nearly 1pc

Derek Rose
Energy and health care stocks were the worst hit on Friday, while the tech sector was flat

The Australian share market has closed lower, rejecting a move above 5,600 as traders turned cautious amid fresh US-China tensions.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 benchmark index finished Friday down 53.4 points, or 0.96 per cent, at 5,497 points, while the broader All Ordinaries closed down 52.1 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 5,608.8.

"Not a great way to end the week," said CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian.

The market gained at the open but then sank steadily lower throughout the day.

Since April 6 the market has been trading in a range of between 5,100 and 5,600, and towards the higher end of that span in recent weeks, but has hit resistance after as it tries to break through 5,600.

Still, after gaining Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the ASX market finished the week up 92.2 points, or 1.7 per cent, for its fourth straight week of gains.

Tech stocks were collectively flat and every other sector was in the red, with energy stocks the worst hit, down 2.2 per cent as a whole.

Woodside, Santo and Oil Search were all down between 2.2 and 4.0 per cent as the price of Brent crude dropped five per cent to just above $US34 a barrel.

All the big banks were lower, with ANZ down 1.0 per cent to $15.23, NAB falling 1.2 per cent to $15.34, CBA down 0.6 per cent to $58.70 and Westpac 1.1 per cent lower at $15.01.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP fell 0.6 per cent to $34.32, Rio Tinto dipped 2.0 per cent to $91.33 and Fortescue Metals dropped 0.2 per cent to $13.58.

Wesfarmers was largely unchanged, falling two cents to $38.86, after outlining plans to halve Target's 284-store network, shutting some while converting others to its better-performing Kmart brand.

Between 1,000 to 1,3000 roles will be lost, the company said.

Homebuilder AV Jennings was down by more than 1.3 per cent to 38.5 cents after reporting a sales slump from coronavirus.

Its management has scrapped comments from February that its full-year results would be better than the previous ones.

Shares in Sydney Airport finished 2.0 per cent higher at $5.70 after executives told its annual general meeting that the business has enough liquidity to sustain its operations through an extended downturn without breaching its debt covenants.

Myer rose 7.4 per cent to 29 cents after the battered retailer announced it would reopen 35 of its 36 department stores that remain closed on Wednesday.

The Australian dollar meanwhile dipped after ratings agency Fitch downgraded outlook on Australia's AAA credit rating to "negative" from "stable", citing the impact to the economy and public finances from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Aussie was buying 65.15 US cents, down from 65.71 US cents at the close of trade on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Friday down 53.4 points, or 0.96 cent, at 5,497 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 52.1 points, or 0.92 per cent, at 5,608.8 points

* At 1801 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was down 27 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 5,483 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 65.15 US cents, from 65.71 US cents on Thursday

* 70.00 Japanese yen, from 70.82 yen

* 59.76 euro cents, from 59.84 cents

* 53.54 British pence, from 53.83 pence

* 106.84 NZ cents, from 107.29 cent.