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Australian dollar steady, ASX up in 2016

Australian dollar steady, ASX up in 2016

The Australian dollar is closing out the year almost unchanged in value against the US dollar after a volatile 12 months, while S&P/ASX 200 mining and energy stocks made the top 10 gains for 2016.

The Australian dollar is finishing the year slightly below Commonwealth Bank forecasts for the end of calendar 2016, sitting just above 72 US cents in late afternoon trade in Sydney on Friday, 30 December.

The Aussie started 2016 at 73.03 US cents. Having hit a low of 68.64 US cents on 15 January 2016, it traded as high as 78.13 US cents on 19 April, according to Bloomberg data, reacting to world events and speculation about whether the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates.

CommBank currency analysts in October had forecast a year-end close of around 73 US cents, on the back of higher commodities prices.

Resources shares gain

Materials was the best-performing sector of the S&P/ASX 200 for 2016, up more than 39% year to date. It holds mining and energy stocks, along with other chemicals, construction and commodities-related shares.

Year to date the ASX 200 rose by 7%, the strongest gain since 2013, according to CommSec, to close at 5665.8 on 30 December 2016. Last year by the end of 2015, the ASX 200 fell by 2.1%.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) closed early at 2:00pm Sydney time on 30 December. The market is scheduled to reopen for trading on Tuesday, 3 January 2017.

Company name

ASX ticker code

% change year to date as at 30 December 2016 close

Source: Bloomberg

Top 10 gains



Resolute Mining


+ 424.00

Galaxy Resources


+ 354.35

Whitehaven Coal


+ 271.43

Fortescue Metals Group


+ 216.04

Mineral Resources


+ 202.24



+ 160.09



+ 109.72

BlueScope Steel


+ 109.26

Infigen Energy


+ 103.41



+ 96.96




S&P/ASX 200


+ 6.98




Top 10 declines



Sirtex Medical



Estia Health






Bellamy’s Australia



Vocus Communications



Nine Entertainment



Bega Cheese






Isentia Group



Mantra Group



Gold miner Resolute had the biggest positive price return on the index, while Sirtex Medical, a biotech company that produces treatments for cancer, had the biggest decline, down around 64% year to date.


Overseas, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been pushing toward 20,000 this month and was on track to end the year up by more than 13%. The S&P 500 was around 10% higher and the Nasdaq was up 8.5% year to date.

In the UK, the FTSE 100 was around 14% higher, the CAC 40 in France was up 4% and the DAX in Germany was about 6.5% higher year to date. 

The Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index in China was down by around 11% for the year.


  • Coking coal (FOB east coast Australia port) gained more than 300% from a low of US$75.30 a tonne in February to more than $300 in November, and was trading around US$238 by year end
  • Iron ore (62% content) gained more than 110%, up from US$39.51 a dry metric tonne in January to a high on 12 December of US$83.58
  • Spot gold was about 9% higher for the year, having gained more than 28% at one stage to touch US$1366.33 an ounce in July
  • Brent oil was up more than 50% year to date, trading around US$56.85 a barrel by the end of December, up from a low of US$27.88 a barrel at the start of the year
  • Copper (LME three-month) was up around 17% for the 12 months, while NYMEX natural gas rose by around 68% over the same period
  • The sugar price was more than 27% higher in 2016, while wheat dropped by around 14%

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. The inclusion of companies in this article does not constitute a recommendation and it’s vital to remember that the value of shares in any company can fall as well as rise, which means you could lose money by investing in them. Investors should consult a range of resources, and if necessary, seek professional advice, before making investment decisions in regard to their objectives, financial and taxation situations and needs because these have not been taken into account. Any securities or prices used in the examples given are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Commonwealth Securities Limited ABN 60 067 254 399 AFSL 238814 (CommSec) is a wholly owned but non-guaranteed subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL 234945 and a Participant of the ASX Group and Chi-X Australia.