Australia Markets closed

Share market pulled lower by miners

Trevor Chappell
AAP

The Australian share market has dropped following soft leads from overseas markets and a fall in iron ore prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.4 per cent to 5,936.4 points, with the sharpest falls in the materials, energy and healthcare sectors.

Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said the market's weakness reflected the leads from US and European markets.

"Without doubt the lacklustre performance in the world has been the pipe-opener for what we're going to do, and that's the way it is," Mr Heffernan said.

"There's been no catalysts for anything to change in an upward direction, either corporate-wise or economic-wise."

Mr Heffernan said the resources sector was hit as investors worried about iron ore stockpiles in China and a weak short-term outlook for steel prices there.

A decision on interest rates later this week by the US Federal Reserve looks like the next major driver of direction for the Australian market, he said.

Lower prices for iron ore and copper weighed on the big miners on Tuesday, with BHP Billiton falling 1.9 per cent, Rio Tinto dropping 1.8 per cent and Fortescue Metals retreating 1.7 per cent.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum fell one per cent, Oil Search gave up 0.8 per cent and Santos dipped 0.4 per cent.

Commonwealth Bank and Westpac each gained 0.4 per cent, ANZ picked up 0.1 per cent and National Australia Bank lost 0.2 per cent.

In the health sector, blood products and vaccines developer CSL retreated 1.3 per cent and hearing implants developer Cochlear reversed 0.5 per cent.

TPG Telecom dropped 4.6 per cent after the internet provider's half-year profit fell 11 per cent and its interim dividend was lowered.

The Australian dollar briefly dipped below 77 US cents after losing ground from its overnight high of 77.26 US cents, but was boosted slightly by the release of the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia board's March monetary policy meeting.

The minutes confirmed the RBA's view that economic growth, inflation and wages will gradually improve in 2018.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 23 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 5,936.4 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 23.9 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6,040.8 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 35 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 5,923 points

* National turnover was 4.2 billion securities traded worth $5.6 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.06 US cents, from 76.92 US cents on Monday

* 81.91 Japanese yen, from 81.34 yen

* 62.47 euro cents, from 61.74 euro cents

* 54.94 British pence, from 55.27 pence

* 106.69 NZ cents, from 106.86 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,315.09 per fine ounce, from $US1,309.69 per fine ounce on Monday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9894pct, from 1.9696pct, on Monday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.657pct, from 2.5521pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.285 (implying a yield of 2.715pct), from 97.28 (2.72pct) on Monday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.86 (2.14pct) from 97.875 (2.125pct).

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