Miners drag market as Myer soars

Petrina Berry
AAP

The Australian share market has closed lower after losses among major miners offset a recovery in energy, banks and utilities, while retailer Myer soared after a late buying spree sparked takeover talk.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 0.12 per cent at 5,746.7 points with the mining related materials sector closing 1.52 per cent lower.

Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the local share market had opened with all sectors trading lower but it staged a recovery by noon with energy, banks and utilities rising.

Overshadowing those gains were further falls in Chinese iron ore futures prices during Monday's session which drove the mining sector lower.

"We have seen iron ore come under pressure because there is a lot of inventory sitting in Chinese ports and steel prices have fallen," Ms Lee said.

It also comes off the back of strong rises in iron ore earlier this year.

Ms Lee said the other major factor shaping the market was US President Donald Trump's failure to get approval for his healthcare plan last week.

She said this has reduced investors' confidence in his ability to push on with business tax cuts and economic plans.

"The Australian share market has been fairly resilient despite US futures tumbling," Ms Lee added.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton fell 71 cents, or 2.9 per cent, to $23.55, Rio Tinto dropped $1.09, or 1.8 per cent, to $59.02, and Fortescue Metals slipped 19 cents, or three per cent, to $6.07.

Diversified miner South32 was down five cents, or 1.84 per cent, to $2.67 after it announced that it will launch a $US500 million ($A655 million) on-market share buyback.

Infrastructure and mining services company Downer EDI has clawed back some of its losses from Friday after institutional investors showed limited enthusiasm for an entitlement offer to help fund Downer's $1.26 billion takeover of cleaning and catering firm Spotless Group.

Its shares were up 17 cents, or 3.06 per cent, to $5.72.

All four big banks - ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank - were higher, with Westpac leading the way on percentage basis with a 0.37 per cent rise to $34.00.

Shares in department store chain Myer jumped 18.3 per cent, or 19.5 cents, to $1.26 in heavy late afternoon trading, with a block of 81.7 million shares bought for $1.15 just before 1530 AEDT, sparking rumours of a potential takeover bid, possibly from former Myer chairman, now Premier Investments chair, Solomon Lew.

Toys and lollies distributor Funtastic fell 46.7 per cent, or 0.7 cents, to 0.8 cents after it announced it will seek to delist from the share market.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was trading at 76.30 US cents at 1630 AEDT, down from 76.63 US cents at Friday's close as weakness in commodities prices took a toll.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 6.8 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 5,746.7 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 6.9 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 5,789.2 points

* The June SPI200 futures contract was down 17 points, or 0.30 per cent, at 5,730 points.

* National turnover was 2.6 billion securities traded worth $5.2 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.33 US cents, from 76.19 on Friday

* 84.17 Japanese yen, from 84.93 yen

* 70.37 euro cents, from 70.76 cents

* 60.93 British pence, from 61.04 pence

* 108.24 New Zealand cents, from 108.76 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,257 per fine ounce, up $US14.60 from $US1,242.40 per fine ounce on Friday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019, 1.7201pct, from 1.7564pct

* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.6428pct, from 2.6938pct,

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.255 (implying a yield of 2.745pct), from 97.210 ( 2.790pct) on Friday

* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.040 (1.960pct), from 98.000 (2.000pct).

(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEDT previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session)