The Australian share market inked its second day of straight losses. The ASX200 fell at the open, really following negative leads from Wall Street as Donald Trump ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter. And throughout our local trading session, we failed to shake off the negative sentiment, remaining underwater, despite Westpac’s consumer confidence rising in March, beating forecasts.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 39 points down, or 0.7 per cent lower to finish at 5,935.
On the futures market the Dow futures are pointing for a fall of 22 points and the ASX SPI futures are down 32 points.
All sectors traded lower today with healthcare falling the most. Energy stocks held underwater too with the crude oil price falling to the $60 level. Miners saw the least losses, heavy weights like Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and Fortescue (ASX:FMG) continued to move away from their 50-day moving averages but both closed higher. But lithium companies again took the cake, really snapping oversupply fears and rumours. The likes of Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) gained 9 per cent, Orocobre (ASX:ORE) up over 5 per cent.
The value of trades was $5.1 billion on volume of 650 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) CSL (ASX:CSL) and National Australian Bank (ASX:NAB).
The National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) and its related entities have snapped up a major holding in rail freight company, Aurizon Holdings (ASX:AZJ). NAB and its entities, including MLC and Antares took their holding in Aurizon to 5.3 per cent. Aurizon is trading near its 5-day high and multi-year high. Today its shares closed 0.5 per cent lower at $4.40.
Heavyweight Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) issued an addendum for its 2018 AGM noting requests from members with the Chairman’s responses. The board urged shareholders to vote on a resolution that provides additional information with annual reporting on the impact of climate change.
Murray Goulburn (ASX:MGC) has released an explanatory memo to shareholders for the proposed $1.3 billion sale of the business to Saputo. The company will hold an extraordinary general meeting on the 5th of April 2018 for shareholders to vote on the sale.
And mining company Tawana Resources (ASX:TAW) has kicked off lithium production at its Bald Hill mine. The tantalum and lithium mine is located in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia and is co-owned by Singapore listed company Alliance Mineral Assets.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector, with the least losses, was materials losing 0.1 per cent to close at 11,223. The worst performing sector was healthcare, shedding 0.7 per cent to close at 27,174 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX:GXY), rising 9.1 per cent to close at $3.49. Shares in Syrah Resources Limited (ASX:SYR) and Orocobre Limited (ASX:ORE) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Retail Food Group Lmited (ASX:RFG), dropping 4.8 per cent to close at $1.09. Shares in Seven West Media Limited (ASX:SWM) and Sigma Healthcare Limited (ASX:SIG) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.8 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 1.2 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has slipped the least, 0.6 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,328 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.43 down at $US60.87 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.71 US cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower: Bitcoin has fallen 1 per cent to US$9,175, Tether trades at US$0.99 and Ethereum has fallen about 2 per cent to US$692