The Australian share market has closed lower for the first time in six days, pinned down by a slump in the energy sector as oil prices retreated from recent highs.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed on Wednesday down 13.7 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6,681.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 10.5 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 6,791.2 points.
Burman Investment Management chief investment officer Julia Lee called it an “interesting day on the market” with lots of things “bubbling around in the background,” in particular oil prices and expectations of a US interest rate cut on Thursday.
The energy sector was down 1.8 per cent after two days of strong gains, following reports that damage to a Saudi oil processing plant from a mysterious drone attack would not be as bad as first feared.
Woodside Petroleum was down 2.5 per cent, Oil Search down 2.1 per cent and Santos down 1.7 per cent.
Consumer stocks were generally lower, both discretionary and staples, with Coles down 0.8 per cent to $14.67 and Wesfarmers falling 0.5 per cent to $38.78.
Kathmandu jumped 7.6 per cent to $2.83, however, after the Kiwi outdoor retailer reported its full-year profit had jumped 13.6 per cent, driven by strong sales of its puffer jackets in Australia.
JB Hi-Fi climbed 2.1 per cent to $34.49 to set another all-time high.
Tech stocks were the biggest gainers, up 0.6 per cent, with Afterpay Touch gaining 2.2 per cent to $32.28 and Wisetech Global up 1.1 per cent to $35.17, although Isignthis fell 7.8 per cent to $1.01.
The mining sector was up modestly, by 0.2 per cent, with BHP dropping 0.3 per cent to $37.79 and Rio Tinto up 0.3 per cent to $92.92.
Goldminers were mostly higher, with Newcrest up 2 per cent and Northern Star gaining 1.8 per cent.
All of the big banks were in the red, with ANZ down 0.2 per cent to $27.69, Westpac down 0.3 per cent to $29.54, NAB down 0.5 per cent to $29.15 and Commonwealth dropping 0.6 per cent to $81.74.
Two small Melbourne biotech companies rose on positive news, with Cynata Therapeutics gaining 22.2 per cent after Fujifilm elected to license its stem cell treatment for graft-versus-host disease, and Antisense Therapeutics soaring 63.8 per cent after early results from a small study showed promise for its muscular dystrophy drug.
The Aussie dollar is buying 68.50 US cents, up from 68.33 US cents on Tuesday.
Looking forward, the US Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce early on Thursday (Australia time) that it will cut interest rates, while Australian jobs data for August will be released later in the day.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 13.7 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 6,681.6 points.
* The All Ordinaries closed down 10.5 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 6,791.2 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed down seven points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,687.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST
One Australian dollar buys:
* 68.44 US cents, from 68.33 US cents on Tuesday
* 74.08 Japanese yen, from 73.92 yen
* 61.90 euro cents, from 62.10 cents
* 54.83 British pence, from 54.83 pence
* 108.06 NZ cents, from 107.66 cents.