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ASX dips further on health care, tech dive

Derek Rose

The Australian share market has suffered its first loss in four days, with every sector except energy shares and financials in the red.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed on Tuesday down 33.9 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 6,614.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 32.1 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 6,728.

"It just feels like everything that has been driving the market the last few weeks - the [US-China] trade issue - has just gone quiet," said Xchainge founder Nick Twidale, who has been predicting a market correction for weeks.

"It feels like we need a shake-out to correct things."

Tech stocks were the biggest losers on Tuesday, down 3.1 per cent, with Afterpay Touch falling 4.1 per cent to $32.47, Wisetech Global dropping 6.9 per cent to $35.73 and Appen dropping 6.6 per cent to $24.33.

Isignthis gained another 5.1 per cent, on top of Monday's 14 per cent gain, to hit a one-year high of $1.645.

CSL and Sonic Healthcare both traded ex-dividend, dropping 2.7 per cent and 4.1 per cent, respectively, while ResMed dipped 4.7 per cent and overall the sector was down 2.6 per cent.

Melbourne biotech company Mesoblast soared 22.3 per cent to a 10-month high of $1.78, however, after selling the European and Latin American rights to its stem-cell based lower back pain treatment to German pharmaceutical giant Grunenthal.

Syrah Resources fell by a third to 47 cents after the Melbourne-headquartered company said it was cutting production at its graphite mine in Mozambique because of sharply falling prices in China.

Goldminers were hitting two and three-month lows as the price of the precious metal dropped another $US8 to $US1490 an ounce, with Evolution down 4.4 per cent, Newcrest down 4.0 per cent and Northern Star down 4.9 per cent.

Elsewhere in the sector, BHP rose 0.5 per cent to $36.32, Rio Tinto dropped 0.3 per cent to $90.04 and Fortescue rose 1.7 per cent to $8.60.

The energy sector was buoyant as the price of oil hit a six-week high of above $US62.85 a gallon on the hopes that OPEC would agree to cut production this week.

Oil Search rose 3.8 per cent, Santos up 4.1 per cent, Woodside Petroleum up 1.9 per cent and Beach Energy up 1.2 per cent.

The big banks were all higher, with NAB up 1.6 per cent to $28.48 and Westpac up 0.9 per cent to $29.12, while ANZ and Commonwealth gained both gained 0.1 per cent, to $27.23 and $79.89, respectively.

Telstra dropped 1.1 per cent to a three-month low of $3.56.

Australian 10-year bond yields rose by 4.5 basis points, indicating less demand for the safe haven asset.

The Aussie dollar edged higher, buying 68.69 US cents, up from 68.56 US cents on Monday.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 0.7 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 6,648 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed up 7.4 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 6,760.1 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed up three points, or 0.05 per cent, to 6,641.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST

One Australian dollar buys:

* 68.69 US cents, from 68.56 US cents on Monday

* 73.76 Japanese yen, from 73.33 yen

* 62.12 euro cents, from 62.18 cents

* 55.55 British pence, from 55.90 pence

* 106.69 NZ cents, from 106.75 cents.