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Energy leads widespread declines on ASX

Stuart Condie

The Australian share market has closed lower again, with energy and materials stocks dragging the ASX back toward last week's six-month low.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended down 61.8 points, or 1.05 per cent, at 5,843.1 points on Tuesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 1.02 per cent.

Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston said it appeared Australia had been caught up in the broader volatility of China's efforts to lift its equity market.

"It's been a two-day affair: China has effectively brought their A-game, and has chucked the kitchen sink at getting the equity markets up," Mr Weston said.

"They've caused a two-day rally and, as soon as the Chinese market opened, we've traded lower."

The energy sector was comfortably the worst performing, dropping early and declining further throughout the day to close 3.2 per cent down.

The resources sector dropped away after early gains, with Rio Tinto and BHP closing down 1.1 and 0.8 per cent respectively.

Coronado Global Resources, Australia's biggest coal mining IPO since 2012, closed 10 per cent below its float price of $4.00 on its first day of trade.

The heavyweight financial sector also fell after a choppy overnight session on Wall Street, with ANZ leading the declines among the big four banks with a 1.9 per cent drop to $25.29.

Commonwealth Bank was the best performing of the major lenders, falling 1.1 per cent to $66.61 after announcing the sale of its 80 per cent stake in an Indonesian life insurance business for $426 million.

The healthcare sector is down about 17 per cent since the end of August following a fourth straight session of losses.

Private hospital operator Healthscope leapt nearly 20 per cent to $2.13 after becoming the target of a $4.11 billion takeover bid involving AustralianSuper for the second time in six months, but sector giant CSL slipped another 1.9 per cent to $3.58.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar slipped to 70.65 US cents from 71.09 on Monday, as the previous day's optimism over Chinese policy stimulus faded.

ON THE ASX:

* The S&P/ASX200 closed down 61.8 points, or 1.05 per cent, at 5,843.1 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 61.3 points, or 1.02 per cent, at 5,944.9 points

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 76 points, or 1.3 per cent, at 5,815 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.65 US cents, from 71.09 US cents on Monday

* 79.52 Japanese yen, from 80.07

* 61.67 euro cents, from 61.75

* 54.50 British pence, from 54.40

* 107.96 NZ cents, from 107.86

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1,224.9 per fine ounce, from $US1,228.00 on Monday.