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Big banks keep market under at the close

Christian Edwards
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The Australian share market has opened flat.

The Australian share market has opened flat.

The Australian share market has finished the session in negative territory, with declines in the big banks and the materials sector offsetting a day of strong gains for local oil stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended Monday down 0.1 per cent at 5,953.8 points after the local energy sector lifted with the support of higher international oil.

Citi equities director Karen Jorritsma said the tone for the day's trade was set by the aggressive sell-off of Westpac , which ended down 2.2 per cent, at $32.55, despite the bank revealing a three per cent lift in full-year cash profit to $8.06 billion.

Ms Jorritsma said Westpac's bad and doubtful debts had been low amid benign credit conditions.

"However this was not enough to offset sluggish revenue growth of 1.5 per cent which was soft versus expectations," she said.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum led gains, ahead by 1.3 per cent to $32.21, while Santos closed up 0.7 per cent at $4.59, Origin added one per cent to $8.25 and Oil Search climbed 0.8 per cent to $7.26.

ANZ and Commonwealth Bank were 0.5 per cent lower at the close, while National Australia Bank had slipped 0.7 per cent.

For the major iron ore miners, BHP finished two cents lower at $27.67, while Rio Tinto closed 12 cents, or 0.2 per cent, higher at $73.23.

An overnight fall in the spot gold price took the shine off Newcrest Mining's recent form, the gold miner down 1.1 per cent to $22.73.

Ms Jorritsma said shares in Orica, which sold off aggressively and were down 9.8 per cent, to $19.28, began falling after the company''s FY18 guidance pointed to a 10 per cent downgrade to consensus earnings.

In other company news, the share price of real estate agency group McGrath ended 15.6 per cent lower at 51.5 cents - an all-time closing low - after a profit warning sent the stock to 45.5 cents during morning trade.

Fairfax Media's crystallising plan to spin off its profitable real estate listing business Domain gained Federal Court approval on Monday, the stock lifting 0.9 per cent to $1.115.

Mixed utility AGL Energy rose one per cent to $25.43 after announcing an expected $25 million profit windfall from the sale of its digital metering asset, Active Stream, to Ausgrid.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was lower against a stronger US dollar that was boosted by news that the US economy added 260,000 jobs last month, the most since June 2016.

The local currency was trading at 76.53 US cents at 1700 AEDT on Monday, down from 76.86 on Friday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 6.1 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,953.8 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index ended the day down 3.1 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 6,027.2 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 5 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 5,934 points

* National turnover was 5 billion securities traded worth $5 billion.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.53 US cents, from 76.86 on Friday

* 87.451 Japanese yen, from 87.61 yen

* 65.91 euro cents, from 65.90 euro cents

* 58.54 British pence, from 58.80 pence

* 11.07 NZ cents, from 110.86 cents


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,270.04 per fine ounce, from $US1,276.72 per fine ounce on Friday.


* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8233pct, from 1.8261pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5247pct, from 2.5227pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.415 (implying a yield of 2.585pct), from 97.405 (2.595pct) on Friday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.07 (1.93pct), from 98.06 (1.94pct) on Friday

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)