Aust shares sink as $A aims at 80 US cents

 

The Australian share market has closed weaker, led into the red by retreating financial and energy stocks, while the Australian dollar continued its upward run towards 80 US cents.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 0.47 per cent at 6,048.6 points on Tuesday, with the big banks, miners and major oil stocks all underperforming.

The local market suffered a lack of leadership with US markets closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jnr holiday.

CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said a weak US dollar has produced "a double-whammy" for Australian shares.

"The surprisingly weak US dollar is not only affecting the share market directly - boosting currencies and making investors cautions - but it is also raising commodity prices, and that of course is driving the Aussie higher as well," Mr McCarthy said.

The Australian dollar continued its climb toward 80 US cents throughout Tuesday, going above 79.7 US cents before hitting 79.64 US cents at 1700 AEDT, from 79.54 US cents on Monday.

A slight fall in Dalian iron ore futures impacted Rio Tinto, down 0.7 per cent to $81.26, as the iron ore giant announced it had hit the lower end of its iron ore export guidance for 2017 with 330.1 million tonnes shipped from the Pilbara.

Rio also maintained its 2018 target of 330 to 340 million tonnes.

BHP Billiton fell 0.8 per cent to $31.66.

An overnight fall in Brent crude futures from Monday's three-year high left local producers Origin, Santos and Woodside Petroleum between 2.2 per cent and 2.6 per cent lower.

The big four banks all closed lower, with Westpac down 0.8 per cent lower, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank 0.7 per cent down and National Australia Bank falling 0.4 per cent.

Mr McCarthy said the session's best performers were consumer-related stocks.

Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi both closed 1.1 per cent stronger.

"We may also be seeing a halo effect from infant formula maker Bellamy's run," Mr McCarthy said.

Shares in Bellamy's Australia hit a two-year high, up $2.72, or 24.8 per cent to $13.68, after a second guidance upgrade in four months.

China-facing companies seemed to get a tailwind, with A2Milk jumping 6.5 per cent to $7.42, vitamins maker Blackmores up 6.2 per cent to $159.11, and Treasury Wines gaining 2.3 per cent to $14.95.

As the Aussie dollar gains ground, Rakuten Securities Australia chief operating officer Nick Twidale said the ongoing weakness in the US dollar will continue pushing currencies including the local unit higher.

"In the short term the AUD should go through 80 US cents but when commodities start to turn we will see pressure come back on the Aussie," Mr Twidale said.

"Certainly while there's negative USD sentiment across the board it is difficult to pick a top for the Aussie at the moment," he added.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 28.5 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 6,048.6 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 21.8 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 6,165.9 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 34 points, or 0.56 per cent, at 5,992.0 points.

* National turnover was 5.2 billion securities traded worth $4.8 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 79.64 US cents, from 79.54 on Monday

* 88.29 Japanese yen, from 88.06 yen

* 64.95 euro cents, from 65.07 euro cents

* 57.77 British pence, from 57.86 pence

* 109.36 NZ cents, unchanged

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,340.04 per fine ounce, from $US1,343.61 per fine ounce on Monday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0559pct, from 2.0432pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7241pct, from 2.7182pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.225 (implying a yield of 2.775pct), from 97.230 (implying a yield of 2.770pct) on Monday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.795 (2.205pct), from 97.810 (2.190pct).

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