New Zealand Markets closed

Aust shares flat on directionless Friday

Petrina Berry
The Australian share market has closed steady with investors left searching for direction

The Australian share market has closed flat, with a lack of domestic and international news leaving investors with little to direct their activity.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 0.07 per cent, to 6,032.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 0.05 per cent, to 6,140.9 points.

US and European markets fell after President Donald Trump cancelled his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

With the soft overseas leads, the local market was flat too with a lack of market-moving news, Australian Stock Report head of research Chris Conway said.

"There are not a lot of catalysts at the moment and while there are big things happening overseas, the narrative really hasn't changed," he said.

"Traders and investors don't really know what to do and that's reflected in the weak volumes as well."

While May was seasonally a quiet period, the lull had arrived later than usual because there had been some strong results out of the US earlier this month, Mr Conway said.

One of the day's biggest stories - Wesfarmers announcing it was ending its UK hardware ambitions by selling the Homebase chain it bought in 2016 - had a minimal impact, with the stock rising 41 cents, or 0.9 per cent to $45.52.

Energy stocks were among the worst performers after growing concerns the world's major oil-exporting nations could lift output in June drove crude prices down by more than one per cent overnight.

Woodside Petroleum dropped 2.2 per cent to $32.86, and Oil Search shed 1.3 per cent to $8.21.

The mining sector was also weaker despite stronger iron ore prices, partly because the sector is coming off recent strong gains, while the telcos were a standout as they bounce back from a recent sell-off, Mr Conway said.

BHP Billiton declined 2.5 per cent to $33.07, while Rio Tinto shed 0.9 per cent to $83.17.

As for the telcos, Telstra rose 2.9 per cent to $2.87, Vocus Group gained 2.5 per cent to $2.44 and TPG Telecom advanced 1.8 per cent to $5.53.

Consumer discretionary stocks rose as poker machine maker Aristocrat Leisure enjoyed a second day of strong gains off the back of its first-half profit report released on Thursday.

Aristocrat Leisure's shares gained $1.28, or 4.3 per cent higher, to $31.32.

In other company news, AMP was hit with a third class action over the scandals revealed at the banking royal commission and the resulting damage to the embattled financial giant's market value.

However, shares in AMP were steady at $3.91.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was worth 75.62 US cents at 1700 AEST, from 75.63 US cents on Thursday.

The Australian dollar made some gains over the week on the back of a weaker US dollar but retreated as concerns over the impact of the North Korea talks cancellation worried traders.

ON THE ASX AT THE CLOSE:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 4.3 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 6,032.8 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 3.2 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 6,140.9 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down five points, or 0.08 per cent, at 6,038 points

* National turnover was 2.9 billion securities traded worth $7 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 75.62 US cents, from 75.63 on Thursday

* 82.71 Japanese yen, from 83.87 yen

* 64.62 euro cents, from 64.56 euro cents

* 56.60 British pence, from 56.60 pence

* 109.30 NZ cents, from 109.34 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,303.43 per fine ounce, from $US1,296.04 per fine ounce on Thursday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 5.75 per cent May 2021, 2.1602pct, from 2.1691pct on Thursday

* CGS 2.25pct May 2028, 2.7866pct, from 2.8056pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.205 (implying a yield of 2.795pct), from 97.185 (2.815pct) on Thursday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.80 (2.20pct), from 97.785 (2.215pct)