Consumer gloom spoils day for the big four
The local sharemarket closed lower for a second consecutive day, dragged down by the banks and a surprisingly poor consumer sentiment report.
At the close on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 14.7 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 5165.4. The broader All Ordinaries was 14.1 points, or 0.27 per cent, weaker at 5142.1.
The big four banks were trading positively until the release of the Westpac-Melbourne Institute May survey showing consumer sentiment fell by 7 per cent in the month.
IG strategist Chris Weston said it showed Australian consumers were not in a good space, despite the recent cut in interest rates.
"Looking at the breakdown, there was a 13.4 per cent decline in where consumers see the economy in one year ahead, while there was also a 3.9 per cent drop in current conditions," he said.
Among the banks, ANZ fell 1.15 per cent to $29.30, Westpac shed 29¢ to $31.19, Commonwealth Bank lost 78¢ to $71.70 and National Australia Bank dipped 38¢ to $32.71.
Materials stocks rose, with traders anticipating a speech by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that would support moves to stimulate economic activity.
Mining stocks were buoyant, with BHP Billiton gaining 44¢ to $35.27 and Rio Tinto adding $1 to $56.30.
Meanwhile, Seven West Media announced private equity firm KKR had sold its 12 per cent stake in the diversified media group for $2.21 a share, a 3 per cent discount on Tuesday's closing price of $2.28.
Seven West slumped 7.89 per cent, or 18¢, to $2.10.
Myer sales rose for a fourth consecutive quarter but chief executive Bernie Brookes spoke negatively about the retail sector.
The company's shares were down 9¢, or 3.25 per cent, at $2.68.
The dollar dipped slightly to US97.85¢ from US98.01¢.
Bond futures were slightly lower before the speech by Mr Bernanke.
Westpac interest rate strategist Tim Jung said it was a quiet trading session as the market focused on the pricing of new government bonds.
The Australian Office of Financial Management priced its April 21, 2025, Treasury bond at a yield to maturity of 3.47 per cent.
The June 10-year bond futures contract was trading at 96.730 (implying a yield of 3.27 per cent), down from 96.745 (3.255 per cent) on Tuesday. The three-year contract was at 97.420 (2.58 per cent), down from 97.430 (2.57 per cent).