(Australian Associated Press)
Shares fluctuated on the Australian market amid early US election results, but have finished barely changed as the world waits to learn who is voted president.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 4.3 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 6062.1 on Wednesday.
The index fell to a session low of 5986 at about 1230 AEDT, and improved to a session high of 6096.4 with about 90 minutes remaining.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 2.2 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6,265.
Despite predictions Democrat challenger Joe Biden would easily defeat Republican President Donald Trump, the incumbent has fared better than expected.
Mr Trump led in the key state of Florida and the overall contest appeared close.
CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy analysed the swings on the ASX and said investors were indifferent to which candidate won the election.
Rather, how they might win was more important.
Mr McCarthy said the indices showed investors wanted a decisive result.
“When it looked like Biden was ahead in early counting, there was strength in the market.
“But as the race got closer, we moved hard into negative territory,” he said of the indices’ dip.
The Aussie dollar rose as high as 72.22 US cents early in the session, but fell below 71 US cents as the US dollar improved.
Mr McCarthy noted the US dollar’s gains caused the gold price to drop, as well as ASX gold miners.
Newcrest Mining, Northern Star and Evolution all lost less than one per cent.
The best performing sectors were information technology, up 2.69 per cent, and industrials, which gained 1.46 per cent.
The border between NSW and Victoria will open on November 23, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared.
The decision follows Victoria last month easing its strict coronavirus restrictions after months of deaths.
Meanwhile the construction industry has been buoyed by house building and less pronounced declines in apartment and engineering works.
The Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association performance of construction index rose 7.5 points in October to 52.7, indicating mild expansion.
On the ASX, best of the large companies was Nanosonics. It makes devices that prevent the spread of diseases in hospitals, and its shares rose 12.5 per cent to $5.76.
The company said sales improved during the first four months of its financial year, as hospital staff recovered from the height of the pandemic.
The Commonwealth Bank and Westpac cut fixed-rate home loan rates, but attracted criticism from consumer groups for leaving variable rates unchanged.
The cuts follow the Reserve Bank lowering the cash rate to 0.1 per cent on Tuesday.
Commonwealth Bank shares dropped 2.02 per cent to $68.41. ANZ lost 0.87 per cent to $19.30, NAB shed 1.06 per cent to $18.70 and Westpac fell 1.98 per cent to $17.35.
Woolworths food sales jumped almost 13 per cent in the first quarter of this financial year, a result the supermarket giant says bodes well for the Christmas season.
Australian food sales totalled $12 billion, a rise of 12.9 per cent on the same 14 weeks in 2019/20, for in-store, online and other sales categories.
Shares were lower by 0.67 per cent to $38.55.
In mining, BHP lost 1.21 per cent to $34.28, Rio Tinto shed 2.17 per cent to $92.73 and Fortescue declined by 4.63 per cent to $16.49.
Earlier, US markets closed higher after investors bet the election would be decided quickly, leading to more fiscal stimulus.
The Aussie dollar was buying 71.08 US cents at 1726 AEDT, higher from 70.45 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 4.3 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 6062.1 on Wednesday.
* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 2.2 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6265.
* At 1726 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by five points, or 0.08 per cent, to 6049.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 71.08 US cents, from 70.40 US cents on Tuesday
* 74.55 Japanese yen, from 73.73 yen
* 60.95 Euro cents, from 60.42 cents
* 54.69 British pence, from 54.47 pence
* 106.79 NZ cents, from 106.21 cents.