The Australian sharemarket finished a bullish year with a slip into the red after the global rally also ran out of steam last night.
The S&P/ASX 200 index traded in a tight range before closing 4.6 points, or 0.09 per cent, down at 5352.2 points as Chinese stocks struggled following the release of “unsustainable” credit growth data for the world’s second biggest economy.
The market rose by 15 per cent over the past 12 months, its best performance in four years.
The Shanghai composite index was up 0.3 per cent at the close of the ASX as the approval of five initial public offerings, the first in more than a year, raised concerns over the dilution of buying interest as 760 other companies await approval.
However, the 13 per cent surge in Chinese local government debt to a staggering $3.3 trillion dollars in the six-months to June, down from 48 per cent average over the past two years, underscored mounting risks from the need for ever more debt to sustain even lower levels of growth.
Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.
The Australian dollar jumped US0.7¢ to US89.20¢ as year-end funding pressures in Europe triggered broad pressure on the US dollar.
“We might see some strength in the Aussie over the next few days because the market is long on US dollars and short Aussie dollars, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a pop up to 89.50 US cents,” Westpac currency strategist Robert Rennie said.
Australian government 10-year yields fell 3.6 points to 4.235 per cent after November private sector credit extension missed forecasts with a slack 0.3 per cent increase.
Gold fell $US7 to $US1198 an ounce, copper was little changed at $US7380 a tonne and yesterday spot iron ore edged up 0.1 per cent to $US134.20 a tonne.
Trading volumes on the shortened last day of trade were very light as investors stayed out of the market, IG Market analyst Evan Lucas said.
"It’s pretty flat out there,” Mr Lucas said.
"Everyone’s pretty much done what they needed to do."
The All Ordinaries index added 14.8 per cent in 2013, while the ASX200 index gained 15.1 per cent.
"It’s the best year since 2009 and the second best year since the global financial crisis,” Mr Lucas said.
Financial stocks, particularly the big four banks, added the most points to the index, but retail and service stocks made the greatest percentage gains.
Law Firm Slater and Gordon was the biggest mover, more than doubling in value, to $4.84.It was closely followed by real estate website REA Group, retailers Kathmandu and JB Hi-Fi, and Magellan Financial, which also doubled their share prices.
The biggest losers were mining and mining services companies, with gold miner Silver Lake Resources losing more than 80 per cent and mining services company Forge Group down 67 per cent, despite recent gains.
Ausdrill, Resolute Mining and Newcrest Mining all lost more than 64 per cent over the year.
Forge Group was one of the few market movers on Tuesday, gaining 10 per cent to $1.74, a day after it secured more work at Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia.
Consumer discretionary stocks such as JB Hi-Fi gained 18 cents to $21.50 while Coles owner Wesfarmers lost one cent to $44.04.
In the resources sector, BHP Billiton dropped 3.5 cents to $37.99, Fortescue Metals lost three cents to $5.82 but Rio Tinto added 18 cents to $68.18.
Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum shed 27 cents to $38.90 and Santos dropped two cents to $14.63.
Among the banks, Westpac added six cents to $32.38, ANZ gained two cents to $32.23, Commonwealth Bank rose by 13 cents to $77.80 and National Australia Bank was one cent lower at $34.83.
The broader All Ordinaries index was down 4.9 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 5353.1 points.
The March share price index futures contract was six points lower at 5320 points, with 11,142 contracts traded.
National turnover was 750 million securities worth $1.5 billion.