The Australian sharemarket closed in the red but finished off its lows as Asian investors continued to dismiss the likelihood of serious risks from the protracted US debt ceiling negotiations.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 23 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 5207.9 points as the talks that drove Friday’s sharp rally failed to deliver any progress over the weekend.
US index futures initially fell about one per cent at the open of Asian trade, but they trimmed losses to 0.5 per cent.
With attention on the US, the unexpected 0.3 per cent fall in Chinese exports in September, well short of forecast for a 5.5 per cent increase, did little to unnerve markets because imports rose 7.4 per cent, beating forecasts for 7 per cent growth.
However, Royal Bank of Scotland currency strategist Greg Gibbs noted that Korean and Taiwanese exports also fell, indicating global growth momentum remained fragile.
Economists have estimated that the US government shutdown has already knocked GDP growth in the world’s biggest economy by 0.5 per cent age points.
The Shanghai composite index was up 0.5 per cent at the close of the ASX, while Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.
“While China is hoping to transition to an import based economy, we don’t think a massive drop-off in exports is quite what Beijing had in mind,” Forex.com analyst Chris tedder said.
“China’s strong import number suggests that domestic demand is on the right track, but the world’s second largest economy still relies heavily on demand for its goods and services from offshore to promote growth.
The Australian dollar fell 0.6¢ to US94.20¢ at the open but bounced back to US94.70¢, while government 10-year yields eased 1.3 points to 4.116 per cent.
Gold was steady at $US1370 an ounce after tumbling $US20 late on Friday, copper fell 0.8 per cent to $US7140 a tonne on the Chinese export data and on Friday spot iron ore edged up to $US133.10 a tonne.
CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said the market lost ground over worries in the US. It also followed the release of disappointing Chinese export figures from Australia’s major trading partner on Saturday.
“The US government shutdown is still a concern and that’s keeping investors on edge and keeping the Aussie dollar strong at this point,” Mr Daghlian said.
“Most sectors are in the red.”
Mining and energy stocks were some of the hardest hit, with global miner BHP Billiton 11 cents lower at $35.02, and Rio Tinto six cents weaker at $61.65.
Oz Minerals slumped 29 cents, or 6.59 per cent, to $4.11 after the company failed to achieve expected production levels in gold and copper at its Malu open pit in South Australia.
Santos closed 1.8 per cent lower at $14.53 while Origin Energy was 0.42 per cent lower at $14.17.
Among the major banks, ANZ fell 15 cents to $31.14, National Australia Bank dipped 11 cents to $34.76 and Westpac fell four cents to $32.95.
Commonwealth Bank bucked the trend, closing 20 cents higher at $72.52.
Elsewhere, insurance comparison business iSelect was 10 cents higher at $1.36 after its chief executive resigned, less than four months after taking the company public.
At the close on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 23 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 5207.9.
The broader All Ordinaries index was down 22.3 points, or 0.43 per cent, at 5206.5.
The December share price index futures contract was 25 points lower at 5204, with 21,319 contracts traded.National turnover was 1.15 billion securities worth $2.4 billion.