Australia Markets closed

Aust shares follow Wall Street lower

 

The Australian share market is firmly in the red in early trade, following a negative lead from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 0.43 per cent at 6,022.8 points at 1030 AEDT with the miners and energy stocks weighing the most, while the healthcare and retail sectors are leading gains.

Charles Schwab market analyst Ben Le Brun said the local market had taken its lead from Wall Street with the major US indices pulling back from morning highs to close lower.

The Dow Jones closed 10.33 points, or 0.04 per cent lower at 25,792.86 after earlier in the session breaching 26,000 for the first time.

On the local share market, weaker commodity prices weighed on the resource stocks, including a 1.2 per cent decline in the price of iron ore to $US75.60 a tonne and an easing in global oil prices from three-year highs.

"The miners and energy sector have been outperforming so far this year and there's a strong chance we are seeing a bit of profit taking today," Mr Le Brun said.

"Of course, we had a weak lead from Wall Street and that's not helping the complexion."

He said Australia's supermarket retailers were also enjoying support, partly contributable to an improved performance by their counterparts in Europe.

"There has also been a timely upgrade for Sirtex Medical which is obviously helping the healthcare sector," he added.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton had dropped 3.1 per cent, Rio Tinto had declined 2.4 per cent and Fortescue Metals had shed 1.7 per cent.

Shares in diversified miner South32 were down 1.8 per cent at $3.91 despite its improved expectations for South Africa manganese production and its maintenance of its full-year guidance for all other products after a solid first-half performance.

Elsewhere, dairy producer A2 Milk is undertaking a dramatic expansion in the United States, pushing into north-eastern states including New York and Pennsylvania.

Its shares were up two per cent at $7.57, while infant formula maker Bellamy's Australia climbed 1.7 per cent to $13.91 in the wake of its profit upgrade on Tuesday.

And, Sirtex Medical shares have soared 17.4 per cent to $18.37 after the cancer treatement specialist announced a major improvement in expected first-half earnings and flagged higher second-half sales.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is hardly changed against its US counterpart, trading at 79.65 US cents, from 79.64 on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX:

* At 1030 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index down 25.8 points, or 0.43 per cent, at 6,022.8 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 25.5 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 6,140.5 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 20 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 5,972 points

* National turnover was 876 million securities traded worth $639 million.