Australian shares close at lowest levels since July 2013

Australian shares have closed at their lowest levels since July 2013.

Shares tumbled from a peak just shy of 5,000 points earlier in the day before falling into negative territory after Chinese markets opened in a sea of red.

The ASX 200 finished 0.3 per cent lower at 4,893. It was down for the second consecutive week and has slumped 7.6 per cent so far in the month of January.

The All Ordinaries index was down 0.3 per cent to 4,949.

Miner exploration companies crept higher, with mineral sands explorer Iluka Resources climbing 2.8 per cent, while Independence Group jumped 2.4 per cent.

The rises were a positive in an otherwise bleak day with losses across blue chip stocks.

Among the lenders, the Commonwealth Bank fell 0.7 per cent while ANZ lost 0.6 per cent.

ANZ's falls followed Fairfax media reports on which said the company had a culture that tolerated drugs and strippers.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown bank lending to housing investors increased by 0.7 per cent in November.

Owner-occupied housing finance jumped 1.8 per cent in November, beating analysts expectations and a Reuters poll which had forecast a dip of 0.5 per cent.

At the close of trade the Australian dollar was lower against the greenback, buying 69.5 US cents late in the day's trading.

It was fetching 63.8 Euro cents, 81.7 Japanese yen and 48.2 British pence.

Spot gold was trading at $US1,081 an ounce, West Texas crude was fetching $US35.10 a barrel and Tapis crude $US31.26.

SOurce: ABC News

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