Big miners a drag on market

THE sharemarket finished slightly lower as weakness among the big resources companies outweighed optimism in the US.

THE sharemarket finished slightly lower as weakness among the big resources companies outweighed optimism in the US.

At the close on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 6.5 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 4717.3, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 4.8 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 4738.1.

CommSec analyst Juliette Saly said the local market failed to follow the US as local resources companies struggled following falls on the London Metal Exchange.

"We've again seen very low volumes and not a lot of action on the local market," Ms Saly said. "What has held us back a little is the big miners."

BHP Billiton fell 10¢ to $37.81 and Rio Tinto dived $1.15 to $67.40, but Fortescue gained 3¢ to $4.89.

Ms Saly said overnight the price of copper fell by about 1 per cent on the London Metal Exchange while aluminium was off around 3 per cent. "There's quite a lot of profit taking occurring."

On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 43.85 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 13,435.21.

In London, the benchmark FTSE 100 Index added 0.7 per cent to close at 6089.84 points.

In local news, the corporate watchdog will investigate if laws were broken when Whitehaven Coal lost more than $276 million in market value after falling victim to a hoax media release. Whitehaven stopped trading shortly before 1pm for about 10 minutes to confirm the stunt, and its shares recovered most of the losses to close 2¢ down at $3.50.

Shares in rare earths miner Lynas rose 9¢ to 71¢ after it said it expected to be producing finished products from its controversial plant in Malaysia within weeks.

The four major banks were mixed. ANZ added 15¢ to $25.41, National Australia Bank was down 1¢ to $25.30 and Westpac jumped 3¢ to $26.28. However, Commonwealth Bank fell 65¢ to $62.60.

National turnover was subdued at 1.2 billion shares worth $2.9 billion.

Meanwhile, bond futures prices were slightly higher on a quiet day with little economic data to give traders direction. JPMorgan interest rate strategist Sally Auld said bonds had a small rally but there did not seem to be anything driving the price action.

"The only thing is US Treasuries have rallied a little bit in Tokyo so maybe that has added to the bid tone in bond markets - also sharemarkets are lower," she said. "It's just one of those days when I wouldn't be surprised to see the move reversed when London and New York [start trading]."

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