(Australian Associated Press)
Better than expected economic growth has boosted the Australian dollar, while the share market was steady as gains by banks and healthcare companies offset falls by the supermarket giants.
The Australian dollar jumped from 75.01 US cents to a high of 75.48 US cents shortly after the release of GDP figures that showed growth of 0.3 per cent in the March quarter and an annual rate of growth of 1.7 per cent.
The figures were slightly better than market forecasts, and some economists had warned of a potential contraction in the economy.
Patersons Securities economist Tony Farnham said the positive figures also drove a relief rally on the share market.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 ended the day 0.01 per cent lower, after falling as much as 0.4 per cent in early trade.
Mr Farnham said bargain hunters boosted the financials sector, which has taken a pounding in recent weeks, and that helped to offset falls for retail-related stocks.
“The worst performing sector is consumer staples largely due to Wesfarmers, while energy companies have been given a little kick along after global oil prices bounced overnight,” he said.
Shares in Coles’ owner Wesfarmers fell 2.9 per cent after the company indicated its supermarket margins remain under pressure and its UK hardware venture is likely to continue to make a loss into the first half of next financial year.
Rival Woolworths fell 0.7 per cent.
The big four banks posted their first gains for the week, with ANZ leading them with a gain of 0.7 per cent.
In the healthcare sector, CSL and Cochlear both rose almost one per cent.
ON THE ASX:
*At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 0.3 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 5,667.2 points.
*The broader All Ordinaries index was down 0.3 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 5,707.8 points.
*The June SPI200 futures contract was down one point, or 0.02 per cent, at 5,666 points.
* National turnover was 2.3 billion securities traded worth $6.6 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.47 US cents, from 74.74 on Tuesday
* 82.52 Japanese yen, from 81.92 yen
* 66.95 euro cents, from 66.33 cents
* 58.47 British pence, from 57.82 pence
* 104.93 New Zealand cents, from 104.31 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,292.10 per fine ounce, up $US3.81 from $US1,288.29 on Tuesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.6852pct, from 1.6396pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.384pct, from 2.3733pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* June 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.59 (implying a yield of 2.41pct), from 97.6 (2.4pct) on Tuesday
* June 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.27 (1.73pct), from 98.32 (1.68pct).
(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEST previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session