FLAGGING ENERGY GETS LATE HEALTH BOOST
A LATE rally by banking and healthcare stocks yesterday limited losses on the local bourse but falling oil prices ensured the energy sector dragged the market lower at the close.
The benchmark ASX 200 index closed 6.4 points, or 0.1 per cent, lower at 5921.8, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 0.08 per cent to 6011.
The Australian dollar weakened against its US counterpart after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates on hold, which surprised Westpac senior currency strategist Sean Callow given the decision was expected. The Aussie was buying US72.44c late yesterday, down from US72.82c on Thursday.
The drop-off ended a choppy week for the dollar which passed the US73c mark for the first time since September but overall it was in a positive position given it was on the cusp of falling below US70c at the end of October.
Meanwhile, oil prices fell nearly 2 per cent overnight on the back of swelling global crude supply, which appeared to have halted recent gains for local energy stocks. The sector had been heading for four consecutive sessions in the black but closed 1.3 per cent lower, with Woodside Petroleum falling 1.3 per cent to $33.77, Caltex 0.1 per cent to $27.11, Oil Search 1.4 per cent to $7.70, Santos losing 1 per cent to $6.42 and Origin Energy 2.3 per cent to $7.06.
Murray Goulburn fell 1.5 per cent to 31.5c after it announced it had agreed to settle a court case brought by the competition watchdog over allegations it misled farmers about how much they would be paid for their milk.
Mining stocks were down despite iron ore and copper rising overnight, with Rio
Tinto 0.3 per cent lower at $31.23 but BHP eked out a gain of 0.2 per cent to $33.41.
Both banking and healthcare stocks finished higher. NAB was the only of the big four in the red, losing 0.1 per cent at $24.90, while
ANZ gained 8c to $27.13 and the Commonwealth Bank was up 33c to $70.95.
Westpac rose 2c to $27.70 after it was fined $3.3 million for unconscionable conduct in the way its traders handled a key rate for several years.