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Aust shares end lower after US tech plunge

Christian Edwards
AAP

Australian shares have ended the session sharply lower, with broad losses across most sectors after a Facebook-led tech stock slump induced heavy overnight falls on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended Wednesday down 0.73 per cent lower at 5,789.5 points

The broader All Ordinaries index was down 0.75 per cent at 5,899.2 points, with utilities and property trusts the only sectors closing higher.

Macquarie Private Wealth division director Martin Lakos said overnight selling in the US was focused on the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which played out as more measured falls on the local market.

"Our tech sector is less than two per cent of the ASX, so not having that exposure we're probably not down as much as we could be, though it has impacted more traditional sectors such as the banks and miners," Mr Lakos said.

Slight falls in iron ore futures, and base metals such as copper contributed to falls for BHP Billiton, down 1.1 per cent to $28.67 and South32, the diversified miner down 1.2 per cent to $3.24.

Fortescue Metals dropped 4.6 per cent, to $4.37 a day after downgrading its iron ore price guidance.

And shares in Rio Tinto were one per cent lower at $73.39 after the miner completed its exit from coal assets with the $2.25 billion sale of its interest in Queensland's Kestrel mine.

Logistics software company WiseTech Global was the local market's Facebook-proxy for Wednesday, dropping 4.6 per cent to $10.11, following a very tough session overnight which saw the Nasdaq-listed social media giant also drop 4.9 per cent, to $US152.22.

All the four major Australian banks were lower, with the financial sector shedding 0.8 per cent, while energy producers fell on retreating oil prices.

Woodside Petroleum was down 0.9 per cent to $29.24 and Santos dropped 1.2 per cent to $5.13.

Shares in A2Milk fell dramatically, down 7.5 per cent, to $12.05 following a report global food giant Nestle had launched its own A2 protein-based products, placing it directly in competition with the China-facing infant formula maker.

Tribeca Investment Partners deputy portfolio manager Jun Bei Liu said Nestle on Wednesday launched products using A2 beta-casein protein, the mainstay of the China-facing infant formula maker.

"Now it's just a matter of time before all the competition catches up in China," Ms Liu said.

Mr Lakos said despite the recent headline trade anxieties around US-China tariff tension, Macquarie remains upbeat about global growth momentum.

"There's no doubt we have volatility, but we don't think that's going to impact global growth, yes we hear a lot of noise, but the policy action behind all that has really been a bit reasonable," Mr Lakos said.

US dollar weakness has helped ease the pull on an Australian dollar caught in the drag of falling commodity prices.

At 1700 AEDT, the local currency was worth 76.93 US cents, down from 77.30 US cents on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 42.8 points, or 0.73 per cent, at 5,789.5 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 44.5 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 5,899.2 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 53 points, or 0.91 per cent, at 5,765 points

* National turnover was 3.2 billion securities traded worth $6.2 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.93 US cents, from 77.30 on Tuesday

* 81.24 Japanese yen, from 81.66 yen

* 62.00 euro cents, from 62.10 euro cents

* 54.20 British pence, from 54.33 pence

* 105.83 NZ cents, from 106.12 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,341.96 per fine ounce, from $US1,352.69 per fine ounce on Tuesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9802pct, from 2.0334pct on Tuesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5728pct, from 2.6298pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.39 (implying a yield of 2.61pct), from 97.330 (2.670pct) on Tuesday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.89 (2.11pct), from 97.840 (2.160pct).

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