ASX stalls after four-day winning streak

The local share market has snapped its four-day winning streak, albeit barely as traders took profits ahead of a potentially momentous meeting by Japan's dovish central bank.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Tuesday closed down 1.9 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7386.3 while the broader All Ordinaries dipped 7.4 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7597.6.

"Nothing moves in a straight line. It's rallied four days straight, eight days of the past nine. Not too surprising it's lower today," said City Index analyst Matt Simpson.

"It's stalled right below the 7435 high (from April 29), which is an aggressive swing. Traders pay attention to these swings, when it gets to that level, it's quite common that that momentum will slow down, you either get a pause or a pullback."

In addition the Bank of Japan, the world's last central bank still pursuing dovish monetary policy, will announce its latest decision on interest rates on Wednesday afternoon.

The bank's last move to slightly loosen its yield control policies shortly before Christmas sent global markets tumbling, contributing to a 1.5 per cent drop for the ASX200 on December 20.

Some believe the central bank might abandon its radically loose monetary policy measures altogether on Wednesday, although that is far from guaranteed.

"It's a big event, potentially, and I think you've probably got traders taking some money off the table, readjusting their positions," Mr Simpson told AAP.

"I'm not too surprised that the ASX is struggling here, because I think it will be quite a big macro event that is going to hit most asset classes, to some degree or another."

The market was also digesting a slew of economic data from China including a decline in population, better-than-expected retail sales figures and official gross domestic product growth of 2.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, slightly beating expectations.

But many deemed those GDP figures as implausible, given the extent to which the Chinese economy was in lockdown last year.

The Australian market seemed to be searching for direction all day, moving in and out of positive territory. With US stock exchanges closed for a public holiday, it had no cues from Wall Street.

The heavyweight mining sector dropped 1.1 per cent with losses for all the major miners as the US dollar rebounded, leading to a drop in commodity prices.

BHP fell 1.1 per cent to $49.14, Rio Tinto retreated 1.2 per cent to 120.67 and Fortescue Metals closed down 1.3 per cent to $22.03.

Goldminers were softer as well, with Newcrest down 1.8 per cent and Northern Star down 1.5 per cent.

James Hardie was up 1.8 per cent to $30.02 as the building products company appointed two new members to its executive leadership team.

The stronger greenback was helping CSL, which makes most of its money in US dollars. The blood products giant was up 1.3 per cent to $290.56, buoying the healthcare sector.

Consumer staples were also performing strongly with Woolworths up 2.5 per cent to $34.76, Coles growing 2.0 per cent to $17.15 and Endeavour Group up 2.0 per cent to $6.49.

Telstra added 1.7 per cent to a nearly six-month high of $4.09.

JB Hi-Fi was up as much as 5.6 per cent in early trading after announcing record sales in the six months to December 31, but the electronics retailer steadily lost ground throughout the day to close down 1.3 per cent to $46.51.

The big banks all had a quiet day, with Westpac flat at $23.93 and NAB, ANZ and CBA all up 0.1 per cent to $31.67, $24.91 and $107.44 respectively.

The Australian dollar meanwhile had slipped slightly against its rebounding US counterpart, after hitting a six-month high against it on Monday.

The Aussie was buying 69.66 US cents, from 69.90 US cents at Monday's ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Tuesday down 1.9 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7386.3.

* The broader All Ordinaries dropped 7.4 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7597.6.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.66 US cents, from 69.90 US cents at Monday's ASX close

* 89.62 Japanese yen, from 89.74 Japanese yen

* 64.35 Euro cents, from 64.24 Euro cents

* 57.13 British pence, from 57.11 pence

* 108.86 NZ cents, from 109.21 NZ cents.