Australia’s share market has closed lower but provided gains for the week, with an analyst tipping that a good February earnings season could see the ASX return to the lofty 7000-points range.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 23.3 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 6800.4 on Friday.
The All Ordinaries closed lower by 28.2 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 7078.9.
The tech sector had the biggest losses, 2.06 per cent, while energy fell 1.92 per cent after oil industry data that showed an increase in US crude inventories.
Health was best, up 1.48 per cent.
ThinkMarkets analyst Carl Capolingua said Citigroup upgraded majors Cochlear (neutral), CSL (buy) and Ramsay Health Care (buy).
There were mixed results from US markets. However some still closed at record highs as the swearing in of US president Joe Biden on Thursday, and his $US1.9 ($A2.5) trillion economic stimulus plan, dominated investor discussion.
The new president’s stimulus plan helped the ASX200 close higher by 1.27 per cent for the week.
The Australian economy also appeared to continue recovering with the unemployment rate on Thursday falling to 6.6 per cent, based on December job figures.
Mr Capolingua said he believes conditions bode well for the ASX200 to return to its lofty heights of 7000 points early last year.
“We can do it over the next couple of months,” he said.
“Half-yearly earnings are the catalyst for that. If this week is anything to go by, indications are good for this earnings season.”
Mr Capolingua cited three companies which gave upbeat earnings guidance this week ahead of first-half earnings reports in February.
Ansell said it would better previous guidance, JB Hi-Fi indicated an 86.2 per cent net profit increase, while Super Retail Group said net profit would rise by 201 per cent.
Elsewhere on Friday, Australian retail sales data showed a 4.2 per cent drop from November to December.
Melburnians spent heavily in November after a prolonged COVID-19 lockdown, then eased their splurge.
On the ASX, miner Lynas Rare Earths jumped 13.7 per cent to $5.56 after signing a deal to build a commercial light rare earths separation plant for the US government.
The plant will give the US a source of separated rare earth materials, used to make defence tools, electronics and electric vehicles.
Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, which makes respiratory products, was up 5.86 per cent to $32.50 after it said full-year profit was expected to be higher than estimates.
Hospital hardware sales were strong due to an influx of COVID-19 patients in parts of the world.
Market giant CSL rose 2.17 per cent to $274.60.
In mining, Fortescue founder Andrew Forrest outlined a plan for an environmentally-friendly steel plant in Australia.
Mr Forrest said Australia could make steel without coal, by using cleaner means such as hydro-electricity.
Shares were down 2.21 per cent to $24.32.
Among major rivals, BHP dipped 1.89 per cent to $46.13 and Rio Tinto shed 2.1 per cent to $119.32.
All of the big four banks, as well as Bendigo, lost less than one per cent.
The ASX will trade four days next week due to the Australia Day public holiday on Tuesday.
Inflation figures for the December quarter are due on Wednesday. AMP chief economist Shane Oliver tipped a 0.7 per cent quarterly rise, which would leave annual inflation at the same rate.
Fortescue Metals will on Thursday give first quarter earnings. The surging price of iron ore and China’s improving economy boosted sales.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.35 US cents at 1716 AEDT, lower from 77.73 US cents at Thursday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 23.3 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 6800.4 on Friday.
* The All Ordinaries closed lower by 28.2 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 7078.9.
* At 1716 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by four points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6729 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 77.35 US cents, from 77.73 cents on Thursday
* 80.14 Japanese yen, from 80.36 yen
* 63.57 Euro cents, from 64.07 cents
* 56.47 British pence, from 56.74 pence
* 107.65 NZ cents, from 107.82 cents.