Australian Stocks Closed Weaker

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NUSADAILY.COM -SYDNEY- Australian shares closed weaker for three straight days on Friday and recorded their first weekly decline in March.

At market close, the benchmark ASX 200 index was down 37.70 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 6,708.20, while the All Ordinaries Index was down 40.50 points, or 0.58 per cent, at 6,963.10.

The ASX 200 index fell 0.87 per cent over the week as energy stocks slumped and iron ore miners extended their declines.

“The index bounced from record lows this morning during the afternoon session, but energy weighed on the index following a 7.10 percent drop in oil prices,” CommSec financial writer Daniel O’Leary said.

“Mining, energy and industry fell the most today due to a considerable decline.”

Utilities, real estate and telecommunications were the only sectors to strengthen.

In finance, shares in the big banks varied with Commonwealth Bank down 1.21 per cent, National Australia Bank down 0.31 per cent, Westpac Bank up 0.33 per cent and ANZ up 0.32 per cent.

Mining stocks slumped with BHP down 1.73 per cent, Rio Tinto down 1.57 per cent, Fortescue Metals down 1.43 per cent, and gold miner Newcrest down 3.43 per cent.

Shares in the country’s oil and gas producers fell with Oil Search down 2.09 per cent, Santos down 2.46 per cent, and Woodside Petroleum down 3.25 per cent.

Shares in Australia’s biggest supermarket varied with Coles down 0.51 per cent and Woolworths up 0.39 per cent.

While telecommunications giant Telstra’s shares lifted 0.63 per cent, national carrier Qantas slumped 1.11 per cent and biomedical company CSL slumped 0.84 per cent. (sak)