ASX flat as financial, mining sectors slip: Wednesday 18 December

Derek Rose
(Australian Associated Press)


The Australian share market has closed flat for a second straight day, as banks and the mining sector weighed on gains by CSL and the energy sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished on Wednesday up 4.1 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 6,851.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 6.5 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 6,957 points.

“Given the substantial moves we’ve seen over the last week, it’s not surprising we’re pausing to reflect today,” said Australian Stock Report senior advisor Ben Le Brun.

“I still think a Santa Claus rally is very much upon us.

“We’re hovering just below the all-time highs, and I think the path of least resistance is to the upside.”

Utilities had the biggest gains, up 1.0 per cent, as APA Group climbed 1.9 per cent and Meridian Energy climbed 1.5 per cent.

Health care rose 0.8 per cent, as CSL hit another all-time high of $287.90 before closing at $287, up 0.8 per cent on the day and 55 per cent on the year.

Burn care company Polynovo gained 4.2 per cent, Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals gained 6.0 per cent and medical marijuana company Auscann Group soared 50 per cent after releasing its hard-shell cannabis capsules for clinical evaluation.

Oil Search climbed 3.3 per cent after upgrading the resources available at its Pikka project on Alaska’s North Slope.

Three sectors of the ASX’s 11 sectors lost ground.

Real estate fell 0.4 per cent and the heavyweight mining and financial sectors were both down 0.3 per cent.

Commonwealth Bank was flat at $81.90, Westpac dropped 0.6 per cent to $24.50, NAB fell 0.7 per cent to $25.30 after and ANZ dipped 0.2 per cent to $25.03.

BHP fell 0.4 per cent to $40.05, Rio Tinto was down 1.0 per cent to $102.24 and South32 dropped 0.7 per cent to $2.86.

Copper miner OZ Minerals dropped 5.4 per cent while goldminer Northern Star gained 3.3 per cent after returning to trade following a $765 million capital raising to acquire a half stake in the Kalgoorlie Super Pit gold mine.

Metals X tumbled 28.6 per cent after announcing production was down at its Renison Tin operations in Tasmania.

QBE Insurance dropped 1.1 per cent to $13.13 after announced it would take a loss on its North American crop business after bad weather there.

“There’s a lot of forgiveness in the market today,” Mr Le Brun said, suggesting that on another day the insurer would have suffered a more significant drop.

Woolworths gained 0.9 per cent to $37.88, and Wesfarmers was up 0.7 per cent to $42.05.

The Aussie dollar is buying 68.45 US cents, from 68.66 US cents on Tuesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 4.1 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 6,851.4 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed up 6.5 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 6,957 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed up 12 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 6,858.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 68.51 US cents, from 68.66 US cents on Monday

* 74.98 Japanese yen, from 75.22 yen

* 61.52 euro cents, from 61.59 cents

* 52.27 British pence, from 51.70 pence

* 104.34 NZ cents, from 104.08 cents.


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