Miners a drag as China outlook wanes
The sharemarket finished lower on Tuesday as investors continued to sell off mining stocks amid poor performances from Chinese indexes.
Finishing on the day's low, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 29 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 5117.9, while the broader All Ordinaries lost 31.4 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 5128.6.
Losses on the Shanghai index and a fall in local business confidence gave investors further reason to turn away from resources stocks as miners delay projects and look to cut costs with demand from China easing.
"[Miners] are going to remain captive to Chinese sentiment until there's a definitive turnaround. I don't think you're going to see investors embrace it too much," said JBWere executive director Mike Kendall.
BHP slipped almost half a per cent to $35.67, while rival Rio Tinto, which will reportedly cut investments in Guinea, in West Africa, dropped 1.9 per cent to $61.92. Fortescue Metals finished down 3 per cent at $4.24.
Mr Kendall said investors were chasing yields and resources companies were "notorious for not paying fantastic levels of dividends".
A drop in the iron ore price to $US144.1 per tonne, its lowest level this year, also hurt miners. Mr Kendall said most analysts expected iron ore prices to return to closer to the long-term average around $US120.
Commonwealth Bank continued to trade at record highs, finishing at $70.58. The bank is close to becoming the ASX's most valuable stock with a market capitalisation of $113.6 billion. BHP holds that title with a cap of $114.6 billion.
All the other major banks finished down slightly.
Woodside Petroleum shares fell 1.7 per cent to $36.75, as the company's $40 billion Browse gas project in Western Australia looks less likely to go ahead.
With its largest shareholder, Nathan Tinkler, facing the NSW Supreme Court over the liquidation of his private company Mulsanne Resources, Whitehaven Coal shares continued their slide, down 5.5 per cent to $2.39.
Pharmaxis, after poor earnings results and setbacks with US regulators, replaced its chief executive. The pharmaceutical company's shares lost 8.4 per cent to 54.5¢.
And the dollar moved to 4-year highs against the yen, at 99.233 yen in late trading.