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Aust shares down on mining, energy stocks

Trevor Chappell
AAP

The Australian share market has closed lower, with weakness among mining and energy stocks and a dip in ANZ outweighing modest gains elsewhere for the big banks in lacklustre pre-Easter trading.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended the shortened trading week down 30.1 points, or 0.52 per cent to 5,759.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 30.3 points, or 0.51 per cent to 5,868.9 points.

Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said trading on Thursday was muted, with little in the way of company reports or economic data to provide strong direction.

"There's no theme other than I would say profit-taking on the high-flyers of the last year," he said.

"Today, the ones that got really slammed were these so-called 'market darlings' of the last year like, Kogan, Altium, Bellamy's and A2 Milk."

Mr Heffernan said those stocks had risen rapidly and investors had now decided that the pace was unsustainable.

Infant formula supplier Bellamy's fell 8.1 per cent to $19.84, milk and formula supplier A2 Milk retreated five per cent to $11.46, online goods and services merchant Kogan reversed 3.9 per cent to $8.50, and computer software developer Altium surrendered 6.2 per cent to $19.90.

The slide in tech-related stocks followed a drop in Amazon shares on Wall St overnight and ongoing weakness in the US tech-sector after the decline in Facebook's share price earlier in the week.

But it was the resources sector that weighed upon the Australian market the most, reflecting lower prices for iron ore and oil.

Global miner BHP Billiton fell 1.6 per cent to $28.21, and Fortescue Metals was off 0.9 per cent at $4.33 .

Rio Tinto was 0.9 per cent lower at $72.70 despite some analysts' reports suggesting a possible buyback and redistribution would be funded by the $4.15 billion that Rio has generated in the past week by selling its remaining Australian coal assets.

Energy stocks were also lower, as oil prices moderated after US crude inventories unexpectedly rose by 1.6 million barrels last week.

Woodside Petroleum was flat at $29.24, Santos descended 1.2 per cent to $5.07, and Oil Search sagged 1.1 per cent to $7.15.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank rose 0.6 per cent to $72.31, National Australia Bank added 0.3 per cent to $28.49, Westpac gained 0.1 per cent to $28.62 and ANZ slipped 0.9 per cent to $26.86.

Among other stocks, Magellan Financial Group eased three cents, or 0.1 per cent to $23.84 as it announced it had quit its naming rights deal with Australian Test cricket in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal that has cost captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner their jobs and a 12-month ban.

Nine Entertainment jumped four cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $2.27 after it snatched Australian tennis broadcasting rights from long-term holder Seven Network for $60 million per year.

Handbag merchant Oroton's time as an ASX-listed company will soon come to an end after creditors voted in favour of a $25 million rescue plan that will safeguard 350 jobs and hand control of the luxury handbag retailer to major shareholder Will Vicars.

Casinos operator Star Entertainment Group nudged up one cent, or 0.2 per cent, to $5.29 after it announced a "transformative" deeper strategic alliance with two Hong Kong property, hotel and retail giants.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar has fallen to a three-month low against a stronger US dollar, which was buoyed by data that showed US economic growth had slowed less than anticipated in the fourth quarter.

At 1700 AEDT, the local currency was worth 76.79 US cents, down from 76.93 US cents on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 30.1 points, or 0.52 per cent, at 5,7594 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index finished down 30.3 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 5,868.9 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 31 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 5,734 points

* National turnover was 3.1 billion securities traded worth $8.1 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.79 US cents, from 76.93 on Wednesday

* 81.7605 Japanese yen, from 81.24 yen

* 62.24 euro cents, from 62.00 euro cents

* 54.48 British pence, from 54.20 pence

* 106.54 NZ cents, from 105.83 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,328.103 per fine ounce, from $US1,341.96 per fine ounce on Wednesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0136pct, from 1.9802pct on Wednesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5789pct, from 2.5728pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.38 (implying a yield of 2.62pct), from 97.39 (2.61pct) on Wednesday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.86 (2.14pct), from 97.89 (2.11pct).

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