Headline indices of the Australian stock market closed lower on Wednesday, 17 April 2019, as investors elected to booked profit after three straight days of gains. Market losses were, however, capped after better-than-expected economic data in China. At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 21.05 points, or 0.34%, at 6,256.40 points, while the broader All Ordinaries sank 21.96 points, or 0.34%, at 6,350.30.
China reported better-than-expected economic growth data, fuelling hopes of a recovery in its economy amid concerns of a global growth slowdown. China gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 1.4% on quarter in the first quarter of 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday, down from 1.5% in the three months prior. On a yearly basis, GDP expanded 6.4% - unchanged from Q4. The bureau also said the retail sales climbed 8.7% on year in March, up from 8.2% in February.
Investors have been watching the health of the Chinese economy the world's second largest amid Beijing's ongoing trade dispute with Washington.
Shares of materials companies declined, with BHP Group led losses, down 1.9%, after Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Group reported a 3% decline in iron ore production for the quarter ended March and also lowered its full-year production outlook. Rio Tinto shed 4.2%, Fortescue Metals dropped 7.1%, and South32 fell by 0.6%.
Financials were higher, with all four of the big banks in the green. Westpac led the gainers, adding 1.4% to A$26.77. NAB was up 0.8% to A$25.22, ANZ rose 1.1% to A$26.70, and Commonwealth Bank was up 0.9% to A$73.315.
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