Aust stocks close lower

The Australian stock market has tumbled to a five-week low, with $26 billion wiped from the value of the bourse.

Friday continued on the sour mood from Thursday, when investors fretted over the prospect US and Japanese central banks may in future withdraw their support for the two economies through bond purchases.

The fall on Friday was the fourth straight day of losses, and it was the worst weekly performance on the local market for 12 months.

There was broad-based selling on the day, with the market dropping about 1.6 per cent to finish at its lowest level since April 22.

"A lot of what we have seen over the last couple of days has been due to what we have been seeing offshore rather than anything that's happening in Australia," Commonwealth Securities market analyst Steven Daghlian said.

"The slim possibility that stimulus could be pulled back over the next couple of months, even if it is a little, that was more than enough to see markets react to it significantly."

A weaker Australian dollar also hurt the local market and disappointing Chinese manufacturing data weighed on mining companies.

The rapid pullback among what were in-demand high-yielding stocks, such as big banks and Telstra, gathered pace on Friday.

Australia's four largest retail banks dropped between one and two per cent - ANZ slumped 45 cents to $27.68, Commonwealth Bank was off 94 cents at $68.77, National Australia Bank backpedalled 41 cents to $31.29 and Westpac was 60 cents lower at $29.32.

Telstra was down eight cents at $4.87.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton declined 52 cents to $34.36 and Rio Tinto was 59 cents lower at $54.51.

The one shining light was the gold sector, which rose 3.39 per cent as a firmer US dollar boosted the price of gold.

Newcrest Mining gained 57 cents to $15.12, and Kingsgate Consolidated advanced 12.5 cents to $1.55.

Making news, the chairman of casino operator Crown, James Packer, confirmed the company had sold its 10 per cent stake in rival Echo Entertainment for $264 million.

Echo was down 11.92 per cent, or 41 cents, at $3.03, while Crown was 23 cents, or 1.76 per cent, lower at $12.83.

Cattle farmer Australian Agricultural Company reported a loss of $46.5 million for the three months to March 31, after booking a $43.2 million non-cash writedown on its herd.

AACO fell two cents to $1.08.

KEY FACTS

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 78.9 points, or 1.56 per cent, at 4,983.5 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index closed down 76.5 points, or 1.52 per cent, at 4,964.3 points.

* The June share price index futures contract was down 97 points at 4,973 points.

* National turnover was 1.7 billion securities worth $6.0 billion.

* The spot price of gold in Sydney finished at $US1,390.45 per fine ounce, up $US12.65 from Thursday's closing level of $US1,377.80 per ounce.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9327-0.0005-0.05%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5555-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6753-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg