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ASX Close: Market closes red as resource stocks fight strong dollar

Investors bought into a morning dip today as the local share market pared back a steep lose to close just marginally red.

It was an iffy start to the morning after a tough night on Wall Street. US FBI reports that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration information in an attempt to meddle in election affairs sent shockwaves through the US market and set the ASX up for a tough day.

As expected, the ASX 200 index slumped as much as 1.4 per cent, or almost 90 points, within the first hour of trade. However, in a show of the Australian market's resilience, investors took the opportunity to immediately start buying and pulled the loss to a much more reasonable 0.29 per cent by the end of the day.

The index closed at 6173.8 points, marking the continuation of a sideways trend after the stellar rally during the first half of October.

The energy sector was the biggest drag on the ASX today with a 1.85 per cent fall. Oil Search led the declines with a 3.73 per cent drop, while Origin Energy lost 3.33 per cent. Sector leader Woodside lost 1.62 per cent after revealing a 42 per cent blow to quarterly sales revenue in light of recent weak commodity prices.

Meanwhile, our big four banks dragged the financials sector down. Commonwealth slipped 0.49 per cent, NAB lost 0.46 per cent, ANZ fell 0.51 per cent, and Westpac retreated 0.48 per cent. Big insurers bucked the trend, however, with QBE up 0.8 per cent and Insurance Australia up 1.87 per cent.

Consumer stocks struggled to get moving as the country's second-biggest supermarket kept the staples sector subdued. While a2 Milk gained 0.84 per cent and Coca Cola Amatil gained 2.77 per cent, they struggled to offset a 0.69 per cent fall from Coles. Woolworths suddenly spiked in the final minutes of trade to close 0.26 per cent up.

Our discretionary stocks were held down by Domino's Pizza, which fell 4.87 per cent, and Tabcorp, which fell 3.1 per cent. Retail conglomerate Wesfarmers declined in value by 0.19 per cent.

A mixed day for our big metals miners saw the materials sector gain a slim 0.1 per cent. In iron ore, BHP tacked on a neat 1.02 per cent and Rio Tinto gained 0.97 per cent, but Fortescue Metals retreated 1.06 per cent.

It was a sorrier picture among our gold stocks, however, with Newcrest down 0.6 per cent, Evolution down 0.68 per cent, and Regis Resources down 1.62 per cent.

Overseas, it's a similarly red day for all major Asian indexes. As the ASX closes for the afternoon, the Asia Dow is down 0.55 per cent and Japan's Nikkei 225 is down 0.64 per cent. The Shanghai Composite is down 0.66 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fighting off the worst of the losses and down 0.12 per cent.

The Aussie dollar is marginally weaker this afternoon, currently buying 71.03 US cents, 54.06 pence, and 74.33 Japanese Yen.

Today's ups and downs

It seems to be a good time to go public, with two more companies being welcomed to the ASX with open arms today. Online retailer MyDeal.com.au (ASX:MYD) launched into the market after a $40 million IPO and briefly doubled in value in early action. The company closed 75 per cent higher with shares worth $1.75 each. Similarly, junior explorer Miramar Resources (ASX:M2R) listed with an $8 million IPO and closed 108 per cent up with shares worth 41.5 cents each.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ragusa Minerals (ASX:RAS) tumbled after an analysis of structural trends and potential gold targets at its Lonely Gold Mine Project in Zimbabwe. While the company said it is planning to kick off some drilling in mid-to-late November, investors didn't seem impressed with the update. Shares in Ragusa fell 18.52 per cent to 11 cents each.


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