ASX falls ahead of central bank meeting – 16:30 AEST Wednesday 21 August

Michael Mehr
(Australian Associated Press)

 

The Australian share market has given up most of its gains from Tuesday, as markets around the world turned skittish ahead of a key meeting of central bankers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Wednesday down 61.7 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 6,483.3 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was closed down 54.8 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 6,572.6.

With global markets having been driven higher most of the year driven by lower interest rates, traders were cautious ahead of the release of minutes from the US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and the European Central Bank, as well the start of an annual meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said IG market analyst Kyle Rodda.

“We’re looking at a market that’s just taking risk off the table today,” Mr Rodda said.

Wednesday’s drop “is disappointing, but not a surprise given the negative lead from Wall Street,” where the S&P500 dropped 0.8 per cent, said Burman Invest portfolio manager Julia Lee.

The mining, industrial, consumer staples and property trusts were all down between 1.4 and 2.0 per cent, while health care, tech stocks and utilities the only sectors to post gains.

Earnings were sharply in focus during another busy day in reporting season.

Market darling A2 Milk fell 13.2 per cent to $13.89 after reporting full-year earnings growth of 46.1 per cent to $NZ413.6 million ($A391m), a bit below analyst predictions.

“The curse of high expectations,” Mr Rodda said. “It’s slightly disappointing but there’s plenty for the company to crow about.”

Iluka Resources fell 10.6 per cent after the mineral sands producer said its underlying half-year earnings had fallen 6.7 per cent to $232.7 million as trade tensions tampered demand for zircon.

Nearmap fell 9.6 per cent to a four-year low $2.84 after the aerial mapping company said its full-year net loss jumped from $11 million to $14.9 million.

On the positive side of things, McMillan Shakespeare gained 17.8 per cent to a six-month high of $15.47 after the salary packaging company said underlying full-year net profit fell 5.1 per cent to $88.7 million.

Wisetech Global rose 11 per cent to $30.76 after the logistics software company said its full-year profit rose 32.7 per cent to $54.1 million.

Carsales.com gained 10.9 per cent to hit an all-time high of $15.57 after its adjusted earnings grew seven per cent to $210 million, despite tough market conditions.

Elsewhere, the big banks were all lower, led by Westpac, which fell 1.8 per cent to $27.52.

ANZ was down 1.2 per cent to $26.37, NAB dropped 0.7 per cent to $27.15 and Commonwealth was down 0.1 per cent to $77.02.

The mining sector saw collective losses of 2.0 per cent as the price of iron ore fell 2.6 per cent, with BHP dropping 2.9 per cent to $35.25, Rio Tinto falling 2.5 per cent to $83.70 and Fortescue Metals down 4.1 per cent to $7.27.

Gold miners were mixed, with Saracen Minerals up 1.7 per cent and Newcrest up 0.4 per cent, but Evolution fell 2.0 per cent and Northern Star was down 0.4 per cent.

The Aussie dollar is buying 67.75 US cents, from 67.83 US cents on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 61.7 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 6,483.3

* The All Ordinaries closed down 54.8 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 6,572.6

* At 1711 AEST the SPI200 futures index was up 11 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 6,450.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST

One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.76 US cents, from 67.83 US cents on Tuesday

* 72.20 Japanese yen, from 72.25 yen

* 61.09 euro cents, from 61.23 cents

* 55.83 British pence, from 56.00 pence

* 105.90 NZ cents, from 105.74 cents.

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