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Midweek relief rally over as ASX slips

Steven DeareAAP
The ASX was a little lower after broad-based rallies of about 1 pc on each of the past two days.
Camera IconThe ASX was a little lower after broad-based rallies of about 1 pc on each of the past two days. Credit: AAP

A midweek relief rally downplaying the Omicron variant has ebbed on the ASX while optimists found hope that inflation has peaked in China.

The market closed a little lower on Thursday following two days of broad-based rallies prompted by experts' views the latest coronavirus variant may not be as dangerous as feared.

Energy and technology shares had the biggest losses. Energy shares fell a little more than one per cent even though the oil price improved on the prospect of greater travel demand.

Technology losses were modest. However there were declines of five per cent for buy now, pay later provider Sezzle and furniture trader Temple & Webster.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 20.9 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 7384.5 points.

The All Ordinaries closed lower by 17.8 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 7689.4 points.

Most Asian markets closed higher after Chinese factory inflation eased in November from the previous month's 25-year high.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda said while the 12.9 per cent annual reading was high, the figure supported the view that rising global costs have peaked.

US inflation data is due Friday and will be a key measure for the US Federal Reserve policy meeting next week.

In Australian market news, the proposed sale of Sydney Airport is a step closer after the competition watchdog chose not to stand in the way.

Shareholders are expected to meet in February to vote on the sale to a consortium of superannuation investors.

Shares were up 2.87 per cent to $8.59.

Santos will sell a stake in its Barossa gas project, which is off the coast of the Northern Territory.

Jera, which has a stake in Santos' Darwin LNG project, will buy a 12.5 per cent stake in Barossa for about $418 million.

Santos shares were lower by 1.63 per cent to $6.62.

In banking, ANZ agreed to a $25 million fine for failing to give customers their entitled benefits such as rate discounts across about 580,447 accounts.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has started Federal Court proceedings over the failings, which took place from the mid-1990s to September 2021.

Shares were down 0.18 per cent to $27.61.

Westpac was down by about the same measure. The Commonwealth and NAB each gained 0.21 per cent.

The big miners had varied results. Fortescue was up 1.5 per cent, BHP dropped 1.2 per cent and Rio Tinto shed almost one per cent.

Australia's competition regulator will not oppose Seven West Media's proposed acquisition of regional operator Prime Media.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruled the planned takeover will not lessen competition or choice for advertisers and consumers.

Seven was down almost four per cent to 61 cents.

Prime gained about one per cent to 43 cents.

OZ Minerals will sell stakes in two joint ventures to a subsidiary of Minotaur Exploration.

The majority stakes in the copper-gold Jericho and Eloise projects will be sold to Demetallica for $6.6 million.

OZ Minerals was up 0.59 per cent to $27.06.

The Australian dollar was buying 71.79 US cents at 1704 AEDT, higher from 71.30 US cents at Wednesday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 20.9 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 7384.5 points on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries closed lower by 17.8 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 7689.4 points.

* At 1704 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was even at 7378 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.79 US cents, from 71.27 cents on Wednesday

* 81.56 Japanese yen, from 80.90 yen

* 63.36 Euro cents, from 63.10 cents

* 54.34 British pence, from 53.77 pence

* 105.33 NZ cents, from 104.95 cents.

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