The Australian share market struggled for direction, but ultimately ended its day flat, in the absence of a strong overnight lead from Wall Street, where markets are closed for a public holiday.
In other news, China released some key economic data, showing that its economy grew 3 per cent last year.
While it exceeded the market’s very low expectations, it was China’s second-lowest rate of GDP growth in 50 years.
Not to mention, its population shrank by 850,000 in one year — the first decrease since 1961.
Lacklustre end to the Australian trading day
The Australian share market spent most of its day in the red.
In the end, the ASX 200 finished trading with a 0.03% loss (practically flat), and closed at 7,386 points — just below yeterday’s nine-month high.
The broader All Ords index fell 0.1% to 7,598 points.
Many of today’s best performing stocks were retailers like IGA’s owner Metcash (+2.7%), Woolworths (+2.5%), Coles (+2%) and liquor brand owner Endeavour Group (+2%).
Stocks in the real estate sector also did well, like PEXA (+2.3%), Charter Hall (+2%) and Goodman Group (+1.9%).
At the other end of the spectrum, today’s weakest performers were gold stocks like Capricorn Metals (-5.6%), Regis Resources (-4.8%) and Gold Road Resources (-4.4%) as gold prices fell from a nine-month high.
Other stocks which suffered big losses include Core Lithium (-4.2%), Imugene (-5.9%) and Bapcor (-4.6%).
How are overseas markets looking?
It’s a mixed bag for stock markets in the Asia-Pacific, with solid gains for New Zealand’s NZX 50 (+0.6%) and Japan’s Nikkei (+1.2%).
However, it’s looking more downbeat for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (-1.2%), the Shanghai Composite (-0.4%) and South Korea’s KOSPI (-1%).
It looks like Wall Street will start the day lower as traders return to work after the Martin Luther King Jr public holiday.
Futures tied to the main US indexes are down slightly.
Major investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will report their quarterly results.
Investors will no doubt be interested in how much cash these banks are stockpiling for a rainy day (in case there’s an uptick in borrowers defaulting on their loans), and whether they’re forecasting a recession for America this year.
The Australian dollar has recovered to 69.7 US cents (up 0.1%).
On oil markets, Brent crude futures are trading at $US84.71 a barrel (up 0.3%).
Spot gold is worth $US1,910 an ounce (down 0.4%).