Aust share market closes lower

The Australian share market finished the trading day slightly lower, as falls in financial and retail stocks were partly offset by gains by the big miners.

Macquarie Group division director Lucinda Chan said it looks like the market is doing some tidying up.

"The market looks a little tired at the moment," Ms Chan said, noting that investors are disappointed with recent earnings forecasts from glove and condom maker Ansell and labour hire and maintenance company Programmed Maintenance.

If companies don't deliver, they will be punished, Ms Chan added.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 4.2 points on Friday, 0.08 per cent, to 4,976.2 points, following Thursday's two per cent gain.

International share markets were relatively quiet after some choppy trading over the past few days.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.49 per cent higher, while the S&P500 edged up 0.15 per cent. The tech-rich Nasdaq closed 0.12 per cent higher. Most of the European markets finished in positive territory, with the exception of Germany.

Macquarie Group fell $1.12 to $63.74, while the Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 76 cents to $76.60, National Australia Bank fell 41 cents to $26.46. ANZ Banking lost 21 cents to $24.09 and Westpac fell 13 cents to $30.35.

Insurance firm QBE Insurance fell 22 cents to $10.47.

A string of retailers, including Woolworths and JB HiFi, were heavily sold off following worse-than-expected retail spending figures for December.

Woolworths closed 17 cents lower at $23.76 and JB HiFi dropped 29 cents to $22.12.

News Corp shares dropped 67 cents to $17.34 after the media company reported a sharp fall in profit and revenue, hurt by a tough print advertising market. The company flagged more cost cutting across its newspapers in the UK and Australia.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto gained some lost ground, benefiting from a surge in the Australian dollar and a resources stock rally overseas overnight.

BHP shares rose 75 cents, or 4.9 per cent, to $16.20 while Rio Tinto gained $1.29, or 3.2 per cent, to $41.62. Oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum rose 11 cents to $27.25.

KEY FACTS:

* At 1617 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 4.2 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 4,976.2 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 3.7 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 4025.6 points.

* The March share price index futures contract was down 16 points at 4,917 points, with 30,739 contracts traded, according to preliminary figures.

* Preliminary national turnover was 1.9 billion securities traded worth $5.7 billion.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.7064-0.0018-0.25%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.4881-0.0028-0.56%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6251-0.0074-1.17%
    AUDEUR=X