The local bourse had another quiet day, with gains for big banks balancing losses by the mining sector.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Monday down 12.5 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 7139.3, while the broader All Ordinaries dropped 19.6 points, 0.27 per cent, to 7335.1.
It was the market’s sixth consecutive day of subdued trading. The ASX200’s biggest move last week was just 19.4 points, or a 0.27 per cent drop on Wednesday.
“We’re very, very close to 7200 points – and that’s quite high. I’m not sure whether we’re justified being at these levels, and perhaps the market traders and investors are agreeing with that sentiment,” said Australian Stock Report private client advisor Ben Le Brun.
“We need to see a lot of economic data come out and justify these levels that we find ourselves at,” Mr Le Brun told AAP.
“If we can hold these levels, then all well and good, and we might grind higher going into Christmas – but (going into) 2023, we’re concerned about earnings, we’re concerned about the economy, and those are two very, very important factors for the market of course.”
Four of the ASX’s official sectors fell on Monday and the other seven gained ground. Mining and tech were the biggest laggards, both falling 1.5 per cent.
BHP and Rio Tinto each fell 2.3 per cent, to $42.95 and $103.93, respectively, while Fortescue Metals dropped 3.8 per cent to $19.21.
“Fortescue had a bit unwind today – (but) that almost went up in a straight line over the last week or two,” Mr Le Brun said. “Maybe just pausing for reflection.”
Goldminers mostly also lost ground, with Newcrest dropping 1.4 per cent and Evolution down 1.6 per cent. But lithium producers rose, with Allkem up two per cent and Liontown growing by 3.1 per cent.
All the big retail banks were up, led by Westpac which advanced 1.5 per cent to $23.97. ANZ added 1.1 per cent to $24.76, CBA gained 0.7 per cent to $106.58 and NAB grew 0.6 per cent to $30.83.
QBE fell 0.6 per cent to $12.33 after the insurer said it expected to exceed its catastrophe allowance by about $100 million this year, due to more extreme weather and the war in Ukraine.
Healius was down 4.2 per cent to $3.18 as the imaging and pathology operator declined to comment on an article in The Australian saying it would sell its day hospitals to the Queensland Investment Corporation for $140 million.
The Australian dollar was buying 66.50 US cents, down from 67.05 US cents at Friday’s ASX close.
Looking forward, Reserve Bank Governor Phil Lowe will give a speech on Tuesday night titled Price Stability, the Supply Side and Prosperity.
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