How the market moved.
The sharemarket finished sharply lower on Thursday, as investors took profits on banks while resources continued their poor run since the start of the year after being pressured by another drop in iron ore prices.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 dropped 60.2 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 5032.2, while the broader All Ordinaries lost 60.6 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 5043.8.
Material and financial stocks represented the two biggest drags on the market down 2.2 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.
‘‘The materials sector has been a big underperformer and that’s clearly related to the peaking and slowing down of the mining investment boom,’’ said Macquarie Private Wealth division director Martin Lakos.
BHP fell 2.3 per cent to $35.09, while rival Rio Tinto also dipped 2.3 per cent to $60.70. Fortescue Metals lost 6.1 per cent to $3.97.
Doing no favours for the miners, iron ore fell to a new low for 2013 at $US139 per tonne. That price is predicted to continue to depreciate to around $US120 per tonne.
Mr Lakos remained positive about the resources sector, stating miners stand to benefit from a more stable iron ore price. He said that with costs around the $US45-$US55 per tonne range, the industry, with the ability to deliver higher volumes and less costs associated with infrastructure, has the potential to become more profitable.
Westpac led losses among banks, falling 1.2 per cent to $30.13, while ANZ slid 1.1 per cent to $28.18. Commonwealth Bank and NAB both dropped a little under 1 per cent, to $68.88 and $30.69 respectively.
Mr Lakos said the financial sector had been overstretched recently, so it was no surprise that share prices had eased.
‘‘Given that we’ve got five or six weeks to go before banks report, I think there’s probably limited downside at the moment,’’ he said.
Myer shares surged 5.5 per cent to $3.07 after the department store reported a better-than-expected half-year profit of $88 million. Since hitting record lows in June last year, Myer shares have rebounded nearly 100 per cent, but still remain well below their 2009 market debut of $4.10.
Freight rail operator Aurizon gained just 0.8 per cent to $4.00, despite securing a coal haulage contract with Xstrata.
The Australian dollar jumped almost a full cent to $US1.0370 in late trading, after signs the economy was gathering pace with 71,500 jobs were added over February. ANZ economist Justin Fabo said, despite the headline number, there were worrying factors.
‘‘Full-time employment rose 18,000 in February while part-time employment jumped a sharp 54,000. In trend terms, full-time employment fell 2000 in the month, not a sign of a strong labour market,’’ he said.