Australian stocks dip as gold hits another record high

The local share market has closed lower as traders adjusted to the likelihood interest rates won't be reduced soon, although gold miners continued their show of strength.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Friday fell 25.5 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 7,788.1, while the broader All Ordinaries dropped 23.9 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 8,050.2. 

For the week the ASX200 rose 0.2 per cent thanks to its gains from Monday until Wednesday, after dropping 1.6 per cent the previous week.

But a higher-than-expected inflation readout on Wednesday night in the United States, along with a strong non-farm payrolls report last Friday, has since caused markets to reassess how quickly the Federal Reserve might start trimming interest rates. 

Many economists now predict the US rate-cutting cycle might begin in July or September rather than the previous forecast of June.

The market's implied pricing for an Australian rate cut this year also dropped substantially this week, with a first reduction now not fully priced in until next February.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said the hotter US inflation added to the risk the Reserve Bank might delay rate cuts, but ultimately the RBA's decision making would be determined by domestic inflation.

Eight of the ASX's 11 sectors finished lower, with health care flat, tech up 0.5 per cent and utilities climbing 1.2 per cent.

Consumer staples was the biggest loser, dropping 0.9 per cent as Coles and Woolworths both fell 1.1 per cent.

The heavyweight mining sector suffered its first losses of the week, falling 0.4 per cent as BHP dropped 0.9 per cent to $45.52, Rio Tinto dipped 0.3 per cent to $127.90 and Fortescue edged 0.1 per cent lower at $25.75.

But gold miners were ascendant was the yellow metal pushed further into record territory at $US,2398 an ounce, continuing its bull run of the past three weeks.

Newmont rose 0.8 per cent to a three-month high of $60.27, Evolution added 0.5 per cent to a three-month high of $3.98 and mid-tier miners Regis Resources and Red5 both climbed a bit more than six per cent.

In the energy sector, uranium miners turned in a solid performance, with Deep Yellow and Bannerman Energy both rising 6.7 per cent to hit multi-year highs and Boss Energy advancing 5.2 per cent.

In the utility sector, Origin rose 2.4 per cent to a more than five-year high of $9.77 after the electricity and gas company agreed to buy one of the most advanced wind and energy storage projects in NSW from a Belgium company for $300 million.

Genex Power, a Sydney-headquartered renewable energy company, rose six per cent to 26.5c after agreeing to be bought by Japan's J-Power for 27.5c per share, or $381 million.

The Big Four banks were mostly lower, with CBA down 0.5 per cent to $116.24, Westpac dipping 0.3 per cent to $26.02 and NAB falling 0.4 per cent to $34.15. ANZ was the outlier, basically flat at $28.95.

The Star dropped 7.3 per cent to a three-week low of 50.5c after the beleaguered casino operator said its premium gaming rooms had underperformed during the third quarter, with revenue at the Star Sydney's premium rooms down 19.3 per cent from a year ago.

Cettire fell 6.7 per cent to $3.12 despite the online luxury retailer announcing $191 million in third-quarter sales, up 88 per cent from the same quarter a year ago. 

The Australian dollar was buying 65.14 US cents, from 65.22 US cents at Thursday's ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Friday finished down 25.5 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 7,788.1

* The broader All Ordinaries dropped 23.9 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 8,050.2


One Australian dollar buys:

* 65.14 US cents, from 65.22 US cents at Thursday's ASX close

* 99.83 Japanese yen, from 99.89 yen

* 60.98 Euro cents, from 60.73 Euro cents

* 52.04 British pence, from 51.98 pence

* 109.01 NZ cents, from 108.99 NZ cents

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