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Australian stocks end lower, S&P 200 tumbles 30.5pts

Australian stocks end lower, S&P 200 tumbles 30.5pts

SYDNEY: The Australian stocks ended lower on weakness in the financials and after a raft of disappointing company data failed to impress investors.

At the 4.15pm (AEDT) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had fallen 30.5 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 5858.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index gave up 27.2 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 5822.3.

Overnight, Greece rejected an opening EU bailout offer as “absurd” and “unacceptable”, with a government source saying that “in these circumstances there cannot be a deal today”, while Wall Street was closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

IG market strategist Stan Shamu said the sharemarket pulled back from six-year highs today on a variety of factors, but company data released over the session was mixed at best.

“Earnings today have been somewhat underwhelming,” Mr Shamu said. “While Macquarie impressed, this was not enough to neutralise the losses from the banking heavyweights like ANZ.

Taking a closer look at earnings season thus far, 42 per cent of ASX200 companies have reported and out of those 59 per cent have beaten on earnings per share, while 40 per cent have beaten on revenue,” Mr Shamu said. “However, we’ve actually seen a 10.6 per cent aggregate decline in EPS and 6.6 per cent aggregate decline in revenue.”

Quay Equities head of trading, Tristan K’Nell, said Commonwealth Bank trading ex-dividend added to weakness in the financial sector. “Naturally the index was always going to struggle to make gains today,” he said.

In local economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia released the minutes of its February board meeting, where it cut interest rates to a record low of 2.25 per cent.