Market takes breather after a long run
The Australian sharemarket has closely slightly lower for the week, the first fall after four weeks of rises, as Westpac went ex-dividend and Commonwealth Bank shares hit a new all-time high.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 10.5 points, or 0.2 per cent, to close the week at 5400.7 points. The broader All Ordinaries Index closed the week down 12.2 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 5394.4 points.
"The party continues for the banks. That's probably one of the biggest stories for the week," said Leyland Private Asset Management senior portfolio manager Rohan Schmidt. "If you take out the banks, it's been a fairly flat week. We've had the interruption of the Melbourne Cup, which kept volumes a bit on the low side."
Iron ore miners fared well for the week, with Mount Gibson the best performing member on the S&P/ASX 200 with gains of 12.64 per cent.
Atlas Iron was a close second, closing 12.32 per cent higher. Fortescue Metals, Sundance Resources, Kingsgate Consolidated and Lynas Corporation were also among the top 10 performers.
Official figures released during the week showed that iron ore exports had risen to a record high of $8.1 billion in September as the trade deficit narrowed to $284 million. Meanwhile, iron ore prices have remained stronger for longer despite forecasts of lower demand.
The Reserve Bank kept the door open for further interest rate cuts even as it left the cash rate on hold at 2.5 per cent at its board meeting.
"This week, with the banks going ex-dividend, you've got CBA hitting record highs. A few companies that haven't performed are starting to perform. BHP's had a great week. It seems to have broken that $36 to $37 level and is trading higher than that," RBS Morgans senior trader Luke McElwaine said.
"So all of these top-20-type stocks are all hitting 12-month highs and I think that's a great sign for the market. Our market appears to have broken a trading range between 4000 and 5200, and we seem to be holding those levels around 5400."
Even so, a fall in most base metal prices dented diversified resources giant BHP Billiton and its rival Rio Tinto on Friday, Lonsec senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said.
"The big resources stocks down a bit [on Friday] probably due to the waxing and waning of commodity prices not shooting the lights out [on Thursday]," he said.
BHP lost 29¢ to $37.95 on Friday, Rio dropped 23¢ to $65.25 and iron ore miner Fortescue Metals shed 24¢ to $5.46. Gold miner Newcrest gave up 25¢ to $9.88.
In banking, Westpac was off 95.07¢ at $33.18 after paying out a 98¢ dividend. "It held its dividend very well. That is a very good result," Mr Heffernan said.
Of the other banks, ANZ lifted 33¢ to $32.71 on Friday, National Australia Bank added 10¢ to $34.78, while Commonwealth Bank came back from its record high, losing 22¢ to $79.10.
Qantas added 2.5¢ to $1.25 after it confirmed it would close its Avalon heavy maintenance facility.