The Australian market once again spent most the day giving back morning gains, as bank and mining shares offered investors little in the way of positivity, before popping into the black late in the session.
At the close the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.2 per cent higher for the day at 5769 points, down from morning highs.
Recurring intraday falls are being noted by analysts and could point to investors looking for any chance to sell.
“We have had some positivity in the mornings [in recent sessions] on the back of the US but any initial strength is just being soaked up by sellers,” Atlantic Pacific Securities senior client adviser Gary Huxtable told The Australian.
“If you look at intraday moves it does look like the market wants to break back through 5700 points. That’s the key, though, as long as we stay above 5700 points you’d have to remain somewhat neutral,” Mr Huxtable said.
With the local market clawing back into positive territory late in the session, and closing 69 points above the “key” level, on Wednesday, the adviser sees no reason to be overly dramatic.
Rio Tinto weighed on the market, down 1.3 per cent to $63.88, while BHP Billiton fell 0.6 per cent to $24.20 and Fortescue Metals lost 4.8 per cent to $5.01 after Moody’s downgraded its rating on the Chinese economy, sending a wave of nerves through commodities investors.
Major banks were mostly weaker, with Westpac losing 0.7 per cent to $30.55, NAB giving up 0.5 per cent to $30 and NAB edging 0.1 per cent lower to $28.28, while CBA gained 0.1 per cent to $81.
CSL outperformed with a 1.5 per cent rise to $133.11, while Telstra and Wesfarmers gained 0.5 per cent each, Woolworths rose 1.2 per cent and Macquarie Group added 0.8 per cent.
Sigma Healthcare was the worst performer on the index with a 31.2 per cent collapse following news the company is pursuing legal action again retailer My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse to defend the source of between $5-10 million of its annual earnings. Gold stocks also slipped as the US dollar regained strength and pushed the price of the precious metal lower.
A “pocket of strength” can be seen in non-bank financials, according to Gary Huxtable, who says increasing speculation of another Fed rate hike is boosting certain members of the sector.
“Challenger, for instance, was up around 2.5 per cent today and quite a bit yesterday, and McMillan Shakespeare,’ Mr Huxtable said.
“If we look at the interest rate outlook in America, the market is pricing in a June rate hike… so these are the companies that’ll benefit from that but don’t have the same headwinds the big four and regional banks do.”