RTTNews - The Australian stock market ended in negative territory for the first time in five trading sessions, dragged down by resource stocks on lower commodity prices. A Mixed closing on Wall Street Friday on concerns about the pace of economic recovery and weak trading across the other Asian markets impacted sentiment, as traders preferred to adopt a wait-and-watch approach and moved to the sidelines.
In the U.S., stocks finished Friday's session on a mixed note after traders were presented with mixed economic data. A report released by the Reuters / University of Michigan revealed that consumer sentiment continued to improve in the month of June. The preliminary reading of the consumer sentiment index for June came in at 69.0 compared to a reading of 68.7 in May. Economists had been expecting a somewhat more notable increase to a reading of 69.5.
Separately, a report from the Labor Department showed that import prices climbed by 1.3% in May, compared to a 1.1% increase in April. Export prices also rose, climbing by 0.6% in May following an increase of 0.4% in the previous month. Compared to the same month a year ago, import prices fell 17.6%, while export prices slipped by 6.5%.
While the Nasdaq closed down 3.57 points or 0.2% at 1,859, the Dow closed up 28.34 points or 0.3% at 8,799 and the S&P 500 closed up 1.32 points or 0.1% at 946.
The All Ordinaries Index opened unchanged from its previous close at 4,062, but slipped into negative territory on lower commodity prices. The index remained below the unchanged line throughout the session before closing at the day's low of 4,030, representing a loss of 31.10 points, or 0.77%. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index followed a similar trend and ended lower at 4,032, a loss of 30.50 points or 0.80%.
Crude oil prices ended lower with a loss of $1.06 at $70.98 a barrel in Asian trading. Light sweet crude oil finished at $72.04, down 64 cents, on Friday in New York, recovering partly from the session's low of $70.80 a barrel after OPEC lowered its demand forecast.
Resource stocks dragged the market lower on weak commodity prices. A measure of six metals traded in London Metals Exchange dropped 2.3% on Friday. Copper fell 2.6%, zinc shed 1.7% and nickel declined 0.7%.
BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, declined 2.73%, and rival Rio Tinto fell 2.20%. The third-largest iron-ore exporter, Fortescue Metals declined more than 7% following a 2% drop in cash prices for Iron-ore exported to China. Oz Minerals slumped 4.31% after Citigroup downgraded its stock rating to sell from hold.
However, iron-ore mining company, Atlas Iron bucked the trend and surged up more than 17% after announcing plans to sell shares for funding its expansion projects.
Gold stocks also showed weakness on lower gold prices. Lihir Gold shed 1.35%, Newcrest Mining lost 1.38% and Sino Gold slumped 4.00%. Among oil stocks, Woodside Petroleum lost 1.59%, Santos fell 1.00% and Oil Search shed 2.85%.
Among financial stocks, Commonwealth Bank added 1.08%, and National Australia Bank rose 0.77%. Australia and New Zealand Bank remained unchanged from previous close, while Westpac Banking Corp. fell 0.25%.
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