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Market closes in the red after testing new highs in early trading

The Australian share market ignored the softer lead from US markets overnight to test new highs in early trading, before late afternoon selling pushed the index into the red. 

The sectors creating the greatest drag on the day were Communications Services, Property & Healthcare.

Gold, Metals & Mining & Materials stocks were the key drivers on the positive side helping to underpin the broader market.

The gold sector was a standout performer on the day, with producers Newmont (ASX:NEM) and Evolution (ASX:EVN) both closing up around 5 per cent as the gold price hit new highs, trading close to US$2273.10 per ounce.

The price of iron ore also bounced back above US$100 per tonne during overnight trading, after collapsing almost 5 per cent during regional Easter Monday trading. At the close of trading BHP (ASX:BHP) was 1.94 per cent higher whilst Rio (ASX:RIO) closed up 0.68 per cent.

The RBA minutes were released at 11.30am local time and surprised some. It became clear the RBA Board had not discussed a rate hike at all. Most will interpret this as a positive for rates going forward.

In other stock news, Austal (ASX:ASB) closed 10.45 per cent higher after it confirmed it had received a takeover offer from South Korean shipbuilder Hanwha Ocean at $2.825 cash per Austal share. Uranium miner Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN) closed 4.74 per cent higher after it announced it had produced its first load of uranium from its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia.
Mesoblast shares closed the day 71.17 per cent higher, as excitement continues to build around its pending US Food and Drug submission, following the FDA’s announcement last week that the data from a Phase III trial of the company’s Ryoncil product was sufficient to re-submit the Biologics Licence Application.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.11 per cent lower at 7,887.90.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a fall of 138 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 8 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 31.75 points.
The SPI futures are down 14 points.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Materials, up 1.08 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Communication Services, down 0.98 per cent.

The best-performing large cap was Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN), closing 5.87 per cent higher at $3.79. It was followed by shares in Newmont Corporation (ASX:NEM) and Meridian Energy (ASX:MEZ).

The worst-performing large cap was Netwealth Group (ASX:NWL), closing 4.45 per cent lower at $20.18. It was followed by shares in Premier Investments (ASX:PMV) and Ramsay Health Care (ASX:RHC).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.01 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 2.30 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.11 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$2,274.30 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.3 per cent lower at US$102.50 a tonne.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a 2.21 per cent rise.
Light crude is trading $0.40 higher at US$84.11 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 64.91 US cents.