ASX eases while energy, NZ rates rise

·3-min read

Energy shares provided spark and New Zealand raised rates, but there was little to make ASX investors move the market on Wednesday.

The indices barely strayed from their opening level as a mostly positive US lead and higher metals prices failed to translate to gains.

Energy shares were the standout category as investors discounted US and Japan efforts to reduce oil prices by releasing supply from reserves.

Oil prices rose and so did shares. Cooper Energy gained almost four per cent. Beach and Santos each gained more than two per cent.

Oil prices have skyrocketed since economies reopened in the pandemic. Analysts said the supply from the US and Japan would be less than expected. Brent crude traded at $US82.49 per barrel.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand increased the cash rate for a second consecutive month as it tries to slow inflation.

Analysts expected the 0.25 per cent hike, which took the rate to 0.75 per cent.

The ASX and Aussie dollar lost value in the wake of the news but recovered. The dollar continued to trade for about 72 US cents.

Most share categories including the heavyweight financial and materials lost less than half a per cent.

In the US, investors will soon have more data to analyse the economy's recovery from the pandemic.

Weekly jobless benefit claim figures are due. Third-quarter gross domestic product data is also expected.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 11.2 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 7399.4 points.

The All Ordinaries closed lower by 16.2 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 7725.5 points.

Webjet has reduced its first-half losses as people resume travel in the pandemic.

The company posted a net loss after tax of $61.8 million for the six months to September, improving on the $122 million loss it reported this time last year.

Shares were up 1.43 per cent to $5.67.

Among the miners, Fortescue was best of the big three. It improved by 1.27 per cent to $17.57 after gaining almost 10 per cent on Tuesday.

In banking, ANZ was best of the big four. Shares gained 0.88 per cent to $27.51.

A2 Milk will defend a second class action lawsuit by investors who say they were misled on trading performance, which led to financial loss.

Their claims are similar to those in an investor class action revealed last month.

Shares were unchanged at $6.31.

Harvey Norman warned sales have fallen 8.8 per cent this financial year.

The company blamed falls in the Euro and the Singaporean and Malaysian dollars for the period to November 21.

The sales were better by almost 17 per cent on the same 2019 period.

Shares were down 1.73 per cent to $5.10.

Market operator ASX has retained its licence following an ASIC probe into an outage which prevented people trading in November last year.

ASIC has required ASX to address the causes of the outage and have an independent expert oversee changes.

Shares were down 1.45 per cent to $93.39.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.19 US cents at 1720 AEDT, lower from 72.22 US cents at Tuesday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 11.2 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 7399.4 points on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed lower by 16.2 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 7725.5 points.

* At 1720 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 13 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 7406 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.19 US cents, from 72.22 cents on Monday

* 83.02 Japanese yen, from 83.04 yen

* 64.22 Euro cents, from 64.23 cents

* 53.96 British pence, from 53.90 pence

* 104.40 NZ cents, from 104.13 cents.

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