The Australian share market started the week's trade in the black, although earlier gains were pared back following news all US markets will be closed tonight as Hurricane Sandy bears down on New York.
ASX gears up to compete and be ahead of the Chi-X trading platform
The issued statement read: "In consultation with other exchanges and market participants, NYSE Euronext will close its markets on Monday, Oct 29 2012 and pending confirmation on Tuesday, Oct 30 2012... the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority."
After hitting an intra-day high of 4523pts, the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) finished the session firmer by 3.1pts or 0.1pct to 4499.4.
Energy players were well supported. At 5pm AEDT the Nymex contract was down US$0.36 at US$85.92 a barrel; however shares in Caltex (CTX) rose 1.4pct to $16.52 and Oilsearch (OSH) was firmer by 1.4pct to $7.46.
Financial stocks were mixed. Shares in Westpac (WBC) rose 0.2pct to $25.25 while Macquarie Group (MQG) eased from Friday's highs, down 0.4pct to $30.72.
Agribusiness Elders (ELD) was sharply sold-off, down 4pct to $0.245, after announcing plans to sell one of its main rural service businesses in order to give return to shareholders. ELD shares were worth around $0.63 two years ago.
Elsewhere, Panoramic Resources Limited (PAN) rallied by 2.5pct to $0.625, and JB-Hi Fi (JBH) was well supported, up 1.7pct to $10.18. Rival Harvey Norman (HVN) fell, as it traded without rights to its dividend. HVN shares closed down 3pct to $1.92.
The national average retail petrol price fell by 0.6 cents to 148.8 cents a litre in the past week. Over the past fortnight the Singapore gasoline price has fallen by almost $14 a barrel in Aussie dollar terms and is holding at the weakest levels in three and a half months. CommSec expects the national average retail petrol price (pump price) to ease by around 4-5 cents a litre over the next fortnight.
"The downside risks to global growth, softer Asian oil demand and higher supplies have finally started to work in the favour of Aussie motorists," said CommSec Economist Savanth Sebastian of today's data. "The terminal gate or wholesale price of petrol has fallen over 6 cents a litre from the highs just under two weeks ago. But so far the pump price has only just started to react to the sharp global prices falls. In fact motorists can expect some considerable relief in the next fortnight, with pump prices likely to fall around 4-5 cents a litre."
The Australian dollar ended the day's trade at US103.57c in the absence of any local economic data. The Aussie was also worth £0.6438 and €80.09c.
On the market overall, a total of 1.43 billion shares were traded, worth $2.8 billion. 470 were up, 475 were down and 373 were unchanged.
At 5pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures market was at 4478, up 13pts.
US stock and options markets will be closed tonight due to Hurricane Sandy. Personal income & spending data is issued together with the Chicago Midwest and Dallas Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys.
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