The Australian sharemarket has finished a turbulent week on a quiet note as it reclaimed a little bit more of the ground lost during two days of sharp midweek losses.
The benchmark S&P-ASX 200 index closed Friday up 24 points to 6707, while the broader all ordinaries was up 22.4 points to 6813.5.
“Eye of the storm – that’s where we sit today,” said CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy.
After the market was rattled earlier this week over fears that the US and China might not reach a trade deal this year after all, it is an open question whether the storm has passed or there will be more volatility next week, Mr McCarthy said.
Trading volumes were down 30 per cent from usual on Friday, he noted.
“”There’s not a lot of confidence in the buying today.”
Still, every sector was higher except for materials, which lost 0.1 per cent.
Healthcare led the way, gaining 1.1 per cent, which Mr McCarthy said could indicate some defensiveness in the buying.
CSL was up 1.2 per cent to $281.00, skin regeneration company Avita Medical rose 3.4 per cent and ultrasound probe sterilisation company Nanosonics climbed 2.1 per cent.
The tech sector was the second-biggest gainer, up 0.8 per cent, with collaboration platform Objective Corp gaining 10 per cent, cloud connectivity company Megaport up 5.5 per cent and logistics software company WiseTech Global gaining 2.5 per cent.
Citing a 4.0 per cent rise for Carsales.com and 3.8 per cent gains for Beach Energy, Mr McCarthy said there were indications that investors were staying away from the usual market leaders to favour the next tier of companies.
Building materials company Boral dropped 6.3 per cent after disclosing financial irregularities in its North American windows business to the tune of $US20 million to $US30 million ($A29 million to $A43 million).
Lawyers and forensic accountants are investigating and Boral said the matter “is being treated with the highest priority.”
The big banks were mixed, with Commonwealth gaining 0.5 per cent to $78.99, ANZ dropping 0.5 per cent to $24.59, Westpac falling 0.3 per cent to $24.27 and NAB flat at $25.41.
Independent eftpos provider Tyro Payments rose 22.9 per cent on its debut on the ASX after a $287 million initial public offering.
3D machine part printing company Amaero International also made its ASX debut – albeit after a much smaller $8 million IPO – and doubled to 40 cents.
In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP dropped 0.1 per cent to $37.36, Rio Tinto was flat at $95.79 and South32 dropped 2.3 per cent to $2.54.
Newcrest gained 1.0 per cent after upping its ownership in Canada’s Lundin Gold and Northern Star rose 0.5 per cent after completing its takeover of Echo Resources, but several other smaller goldminers dropped, with Alacer Gold down 4.4 per cent.
For the week the ASX200 finished down 139 points, or 2.0 per cent, for its worst week since the first week of October.
The Aussie dollar is buying 68.45 US cents, from 68.40 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 24 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6,707 points.
* The All Ordinaries closed up 22.4 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 6,813.5 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed up 24 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6,715.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT
One Australian dollar buys:
* 68.45 US cents, from 68.40 US cents on Thursday
* 74.44 Japanese yen, from 74.42 yen
* 61.63 euro cents, from 61.71 cents
* 52.02 British pence, from 52.16 pence
* 104.36 NZ cents, from 104.67 cents.