The ASX closed below the 6000 level for the first time since early December on Monday, pulled down by banks, as Domain shares shed 17 per cent following the shock resignation of its CEO.
CBA shares fell 1.2 per cent to $78.85, with Citi downgrading the lender to sell. Other banks were lower as well, with Westpac also lower by 1.2 per cent at $30.57, ANZ ending the daw down 0.9 per cent at $28.30 and NAB down 0.6 per cent at $29.
The bank sector moves were the biggest weight on the benchmark and the S&P/ASX 200 index ended the session down 13 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 5991.
The All Ordinaries ended lower by the same amount in point and percentage terms to finish the day at 6106. The Australian dollar was a touch weaker against the US dollar, at US79.89¢, with investors appearing to take the weekend’s US government shut down in their stride.
Monday’s weakness aside, Deutsche Bank’s equity strategy team expects 2018 to be another good year for the Australian market although returns for the ASX are likely to continue to lag those of other global markets.
“Market valuations should be sustained at above-average levels while earnings growth is expected to be reasonable,” strategist Tim Baker said.
Domain was the standout mover on Monday, with the firm’s shares slumping 17.2 per cent to $2.75 on Monday after the news that CEO Antony Catalano had unexpectedly resigned.
Domain was recently spun out from Fairfax Media, the publisher of this report, which ended the day down 9.7 per cent at 67 cents. Elsewhere in the media sector, Nine Entertainment climbed 6.9 per cent to $1.63, while Seven West Media gained 4.6 per cent to 58¢.
McGrath shares fell 13.8 per cent to 50¢ after its CEO, along with most of its board, resigned following a profit warning.
Healthcare stocks were also a focus, after Australian Pharmaceuticals shed 3.6 per cent to $1.48 after a profit warning, while Mayne Pharma lost 6.7 per cent to 69c.
Retail Food Group fell 2.4 per cent to $2.02 after it created a new chief executive role to oversee its embattled Australian store network. Former Metcash executive Richard Hinson was hired for the role.
The ADRs of eCargo Holdings surged 233 per cent to 23 cents in Australian trading on Monday after the firm said that it will buy 45 per cent of entrepreneur Jessica Rudd’s online retail business, Jessica’s Suitcase.