Australia Markets close in 30 mins

Near-flat finish but ASX continues gains

The Australian share market has eked out a tiny gain to close higher for a sixth straight session despite a mixed performance in the heavyweight banking and mining sectors.

OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said the market had pushed into the green late in the trading session on Friday.

"It's been a very mixed sectoral performance and a mixed stock performance amongst the sectors," Mr Le Brun said.

He said mining and banking stocks had been mixed, so it had been up to the healthcare, telco and utilities sectors to do most of the heavy lifting.

"But really what has kept the shackles on us has been those two heavily weighted banks - CBA and Westpac - and consumer staples - Wesfarmers and Woolworths, especially in light of yesterday's Wesfarmers quarterly update," Mr Le Brun said.

Wesfarmers had said sales growth at its Coles supermarkets continued to slow in the third quarter, as Coles deals with Woolworths' aggressive price cuts and Aldi's expansion.

Weak commodity forecasts this week from two big iron ore producers - BHP Billiton and Brazil's Vale - weighed upon some mining stocks.

BHP Billiton shares were 0.63 per cent lower at $23.71 and South32 was down 1.1 per cent at $2.78 but Rio Tinto was up 1.1 per cent at $60.44 and Fortescue Metals lifted by 1.9 per cent to $5.31.

A slide in the gold price weighed upon gold miners including Newcrest and Northern Star.

Among the major banks, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac dropped slightly, while National Australia Bank and ANZ edged higher.

Among other stocks, broadcaster Ten Network plunged to a new record low, falling another 25 per cent to close at 27 cents, after a 19 per cent drop on Thursday.

Ten on Thursday posted a first-half loss of $232.2 million after booking a $214.5 million writedown to the value of its TV licence and suffering a 2.5 per cent fall in revenue.

ResMed shares fell four per cent to $9.16 after the medical device maker's third-quarter revenue growth missed market expectations.

Origin Energy dipped 1.1 per cent after its March quarter oil and gas revenue increased three per cent from the preceding three months, on the back of higher prices.

Lotteries and wagering firm Tatts Group backtracked 3.8 per cent to $4.30 as suitor Pacific Consortium dropped its bid after Tatts rejected the consortium's second takeover offer.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is down against its US counterpart, after major currencies came under pressure over worries about the Trump administration's protectionist stance.

The Aussie was at 74.74 US cents at 1700 AEST.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 2.6 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 5,924.1 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 3.2 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5,947.6 points.

* The June SPI200 futures contract was up four points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5,913 points.

* National turnover was 2.7 billion securities traded worth $8 billion.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 74.74 US cents, from 74.84 US cents on Thursday

* 83.144 Japanese yen, from 83.34 yen

* 68.69 euro cents, from 68.59 cents

* 57.96 British pence, from 58.07 pence

* 108.71 New Zealand cents, from 108.33 NZ cents


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,265.80 per fine ounce, up $US2.35 from $US1,263.45 on Thursday.


* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019, 1.6576pct, from 1.680pct

* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.5246pct, from 2.550pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.39 (implying a yield of 2.61pct), from 97.36 (2.64pct) on Thursday

* June 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.17 (1.83pct), from 98.14 (1.86pct)

(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEST previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session)