The local sharemarket has ended in negative territory for the second straight session, with all sectors in the red.

The benchmark S & P/ASX200 closed down 49.3 points, or 0.86 per cent, at 5,652.1 points, its lowest close since early February.

The All Ordinaries index was down 44.6 points, or 0.77 per cent, at 5,719.6 points.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the recent selling in the share market, amid low volumes, appeared to be currency related.

He said the potential for a stronger US dollar was prompting strategists to lower their targets for the Australian dollar, making local shares unattractive. “The shift in the outlook for the Australian dollar is I believe weighing on the local market,” Mr McCarthy said.

“With so many strategists shifting their view on the Aussie from up to somewhere between 80 and 84 (US) cents to now down to somewhere between 76 and 72 (US) cents, we’ve got a lot of reasons for international investors to bale out or even short.”

Trade was thin and holidays in China meant little guidance for iron ore markets.

Mr McCarthy warned of further potential falls.

“The reality for Australian investors is that we just need to survive until next week when the rest of Asia and local investors come back to the office,” he said.

“There is some danger here that … we push through that floor in the four-month trading range … which could spark selling momentum in itself.

“We might see further underperformance from Australian shares so from an Australian investor’s point of view, fingers crossed until next Monday.”

Commonwealth Bank edged 0.32 per cent upward to $75.40. Westpac slid 0.87 per cent to $31.86 and ANZ slumped 2.11 per cent, closing at $25.78. NAB fell 1.21 per cent to $31.13.

In resources, BHP shed 0.57 per cent to $26.00 at the close. Rio Tinto slumped 1.55 per cent to close at $67.43 and Fortescue fell 2.09 per cent to $5.15.

Galaxy Resources jumped 2.41 per cent to $2.97 after refuting reports it had struck a lithium supply deal with Panasonic. “At this point in time, no agreements have been signed,” the company said in a statement to the ASX.

Shares in Woolworths shed 1.84 per cent to $24.54, closing below $25 a share for the first time since January as it continues to face heavy competition in the supermarket sector.

It comes as the ACCC announced it had delayed its decision on BP’s proposed $1.8bn acquisition of Woolworths’ 527 retail service station sites.

Wesfarmers fell 0.75 per cent, closing at $40.90.

Telstra hit a new five-year low, closing down 1.15 per cent at $3.43.

Elsewhere, shares in Cochlear hit a new 12-month high, closing the session up 1.16 per cent at $161.98.

Supply-chain logistics company Brambles dropped below $9 for the first time in 12 months, closing the session down 0.33 per cent at $8.93.

The Australian dollar was trading 0.3 per cent higher at 0.7859 US cents at 4.26pm (AEDT).

Extracted from The Australian.

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