(Australian Associated Press)
The share market has closed relatively steady after stronger-than-expected Chinese drove a recovery from early losses.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was just 1.7 points lower, a significant improvement after dropping almost 23 points soon after trading began.
The latest Chinese trade data, in particular import figures, trumped economists’ expectations and drove a broad afternoon rally on the market, CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said.
China’s exports in February were up 4.2 per cent from a year earlier, in yuan terms, and imports jumped 44.7 per cent, eclipsing market expectations of a 23 per cent rise.
“There are timing factors here with the Lunar New Year, but in broad terms it supports the other data we have seen from China which shows the growth rate is edging higher,” Mr McCarthy said.
“That is a positive for countries like Australia which are highly engaged in trade with China.”
The Australian dollar also got a temporary boost from the Chinese numbers, taking it back above 76 US cents before it slid back to 75.95 US cents.
The market’s best performers included Telstra, energy producers and health care stocks.
Telstra gained three cents to $4.67, Woodside Petroleum gained 15 cents to $31.32 and CSL was $1.00 higher at $122.49.
Three of the four big banks were also higher, with National Australia Bank posting the strongest gain of 0.9 per cent, to $32.70.
Commonwealth Bank dropped 0.4 per cent to $83.23.
The resources sector was a key area of weakness after the price of iron ore fell, with BHP Billiton dropping one per cent to $25.23, Fortescue Metals shedding 0.6 per cent to $6.50 and Rio Tinto 0.4 per cent weaker at $61.39.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 dropped 1.7 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 5,759.7 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index lost 2.4 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 5,799.5 points.
* The March SPI200 futures contract was down three points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5,751 points.
* National turnover was 3.3 billion securities worth $5.5 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.95 US cents, down from 76.16 US cents on Tuesday
* 84.40 Japanese yen, down from 86.765 yen
* 71.90 euro cents, down from 71.95 cents
* 62.24 British pence, from 62.22 pence
* 109.07 New Zealand cents, up from 108.75 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,217.40 per fine ounce, down $US8.00 from $US1,225.40 on Tuesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019,1.876pct, from 1.848pct
* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.814pct, from 2.7677pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.105 (implying a yield of 2.895pct), from 97.145 (implying a yield of 2.855pct) on Tuesday
* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.88 (implying a yield of 2.12pct), from 97.93 (2.07pct)
(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEDT previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session)