Stocks give bank Monday’s gains as energy sector weighs

A lack of interest in high-yield stocks weighed on the big banks. Picture: AAP.

The Australian sharemarket has given back almost all of Monday’s gains in quiet trade, as Victoria took a public holiday for the Melbourne Cup.

Weakness in the market was driven by the energy sector after crude prices skidded 3 per cent in offshore deals, while the lack of interest in high-yield stocks weighed on the big banks.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index had slipped 27.2 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 5,290.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 27.2 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 5,375.2.

Investors were focused on the RBA’s rate call for November through the session, with a hold call meeting market expectations.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the accompanying statement “supported” a view rates would remain on hold through 2017, with the prospect of a cut next year sliding according to futures markets.

The neutral bias did initially push the local market further down as the local currency rose, although stocks bounced off lows in the last 30 minutes of trade.

Australia’s big banks weakened through the session, reaching their lowest ebb soon after the RBA statement.

At the close, ANZ had slumped 1.1 per cent, while Commonwealth Bank gave back 0.9 per cent and NAB eased 0.4 per cent.

Westpac outperformed by ending flat.

The energy sector served as the greatest disappointment, sliding amid scepticism on the prospect of a significant supply cutback from OPEC.

However, losses were pared late in the session as crude showed tentative signs of a recovery in Asian trade.

“The barrel has lost nearly two thirds of the 20 per cent rally seen between September 21 and October 10,” IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said.

“Traders have unwound much goodwill towards OPEC at a rate of knots and while we knew there was execution risk around the allocation of output cuts agreed in the September OPEC meeting, this is now being realised.”

Santos weakened 1.7 per cent to $3.51 and Woodside surrendered 1.3 per cent to $28.01.

The materials sector fared no better, with Fortescue softening 0.4 per cent to $5.48 as Credit Suisse cut its rating on the group, while BHP lost 1.2 per cent to $22.80.

Rio Tinto bucked the trend in inching up less than 0.1 per cent to $54.20.

The lacklustre showing came despite iron ore prices hitting a new six-month high.

Crisis-hit Ardent Leisure failed to recover as doubts remained around the reopening of Dreamworld, with its shares dipping 1 per cent.

In retail, Woolworths yielded 0.8 per cent, while Coles owner Wesfarmers gave back 1.1 per cent as analysts continued to flag doubts about quarterly reports released by the two groups last week.

Among blue chips, Telstra slid 1.2 per cent to $4.92, while Qantas weakened 2.3 per cent to $2.99 after a roller-coaster session yesterday following its quarterly results.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar jumped almost half a cent through the session, finishing local trade at US76.5c as the prospect of more rate cuts faded.

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