Australian shares gained little respite on Friday as they ended a third straight week in the red, hurt by concerns about a global economic slump and signs the US-China trade war would drag on.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed about 3 points lower at 6,405.5 after staying in positive territory for much of the early part of the day. The index has lost 2.7 per cent for the week.
Global financial markets took fright this week after an inversion in the US bond yield curve – which has presaged several past US recessions – raised fears of a world economic slump and sent investors stampeding out of riskier assets.
While the United States announced earlier in the week that it would delay tariffs on some of the remaining Chinese products it imports, there was little sign both countries would resolve their trade dispute anytime soon.
The Sino-US dispute has hit global trade and slowed growth in China, Australia’s biggest export market.
Domestic mining and gold stocks fell, offsetting gains from financials.
Top miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto dropped 0.6 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.
Newcrest Mining, which reported a jump in annual profit, also said output at its flagship Cadia mine will be lower in 2020. Shares closed down 1.4 per cent.
The country’s “Big Four” banks – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp, National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group – advanced 0.9 per cent to 1.1 per cent.
ANZ had earlier said the value of its mortgages with late payments reached its highest level in at least seven years. Westpac is due to disclose similar credit quality statistics next week.
Oil Search fell 3.7 per cent on uncertainty surrounding the Papua LNG project in which it holds a stake as part of a joint venture. A delegation from the Papua New Guinea government is currently in Singapore to renegotiate the deal with French oil major Total SA.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended lower for a sixth straight session, posting its post weekly decline since October last year.
Synlait Milk and Infratil were both down 1.9 per cent.
Source: Economic Times