Local market ends lower after more heavy selling

The share market is at two-and-a-half year lows as a fall in oil prices and heavy losses on Wall Street sparked another sell-off in Australia.

The All Ordinaries index lost 0.75 per cent to close at 4,912 and the ASX 200 index fell by 0.7 of a per cent to finish on 4,859.

It was another day of hefty losses for energy stocks.

That was after oil prices closed below $US30 a barrel, in part due to the removal of sanctions on Iran's oil exports.

Oil and gas producer Santos fared the worst. It shed 8.4 per cent to a 20-year low of $2.63.

Elsewhere, the big four banks all retreated — the Commonwealth Bank fared the best, down 0.6 of a per cent to $78.39.

Gains for retail stocks limited the losses on the broader market.

Shares in supermarket chain Woolworths rallied after it announced it would dump its loss-making hardware business Masters just four years after launching it.

Woolworths' new chairman Gordon Cairns said the board took the decision after a strategic review found it would take many more years for Masters to make its first profit.

Masters has struggled to steal market share from its more established rival Bunnings.

Woolworths shares closed up 4.4 per cent at $23.65.

Wesfarmers' shares up 2pc after UK rollout announcement

Meanwhile, Bunnings' owner Wesfarmers is planning to roll out the Bunnings brand in the United Kingdom within five years.

Wesfarmers has confirmed the purchase of Homebase, the second biggest home improvement and garden retailer in the UK, for $705 million.

Wesfarmers shares added 2 per cent to $40.12.

Telstra was another bright spot. The telco rose 0.9 per cent to $5.38.

The dollar was higher against most major counterparts and just after 5:00pm (AEDT) it was buying 69 US cents, 63.4 euro cents, 80.9 Japanese yen and 48.3 British pence.

Spot gold was fetching $US1,090 an ounce while oil prices tumbled again.

West Texas crude dropped to $US29.40 a barrel and Tapis crude was fetching $US30.41 a barrel.

Source; ABC News

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