The local share market edged lower as whipsawing oil prices led to a late resurgence in energy stocks.
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The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Thursday retreated from a two-month high by 5.1 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 7,173.3.
The broader All Ordinaries fell 2 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7,384.7.
The ASX had fallen by as much as 28 points before its late recovery, fuelled by resurgent energy stocks.
The sector recovered from an early rout to finish slightly up after oil futures bounced back by half a per cent from major losses the day before.
The Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate benchmarks have fallen through key supports of $US75 and $US70 a barrel in recent days but talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have stoked belief a price reversal is on the cards, Eightcap market analyst Zoran Kresovic said.
The key OPEC+ leaders, who together control almost a quarter of the world's oil production, are expected to announce further cuts to production.
Elsewhere, the iron ore price drove miners higher but the rest of the market had wider sell-offs.
Mr Kresovic said traders were likely engaging in a spot of profit-taking after the index had its biggest gain in more than a year on Wednesday.
"I see it as a bit of a consolidation because we had such a strong run yesterday ... prior to the next move up because December is a seasonally very good month," he told AAP.
The sell-off was accompanied by a rebound in three-year treasury yields after a recent slide precipitated by growing expectations the Reserve Bank could cut interest rates earlier than expected next year.
Along with energy and mining stocks, IT and utilities also finished up, while the rest of the 11 ASX sectors closed down.
Santos and Woodside clawed back losses of over two per cent to finish up 0.7 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively after the AFR reported the oil and gas giants were considering a merger.
Boss Energy slumped 8.0 per cent after completing a $205 million share placement to fund its purchase of the Alta Mesa uranium mine in Texas.
Invictus surged 28 per cent after announcing a gas discovery at its 80 per cent owned and operated Cabora Bassa Project in Zimbabwe.
Heavyweight miner BHP firmed 0.4 per cent after announcing its leadership team will be playing a round of musical chairs.
From March 1, 2024, chief commercial officer Vandita Pant will become chief financial officer.
Her position will be filled by Americas president Rag Udd, who will be succeeded by Western Australian Iron Ore asset president Brandon Craig.
Chief development officer Johan van Jaarsveld will become chief technical officer, with his successor still to be announced.
Fellow iron ore miners Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals climbed 1.0 and 1.6 per cent respectively.
Westpac climbed 0.6 per cent but the rest of the big banks fell, with CBA down 0.1 per cent and NAB and ANZ both finishing 0.4 per cent lower.
Financial services company Perpetual soared 6.7 per cent to $25.35 after rejecting a takeover bid from its largest shareholder Washington H. Soul Pattinson late on Wednesday.
The unsolicited $3 billion, all-scrip offer came hours after the struggling fund manager announced a strategic review to examine breaking up its asset management, wealth and corporate trust businesses.
Perpetual's share price had slumped by more than nine per cent since the start of the year before its recent resurgence.
Seven West Media fell two per cent to 24.5c after chief executive James Warburton unexpectedly stated his intention to resign, with his role to be filled by chief financial officer Jeff Howard.
Sigma Healthcare entered a trading halt amid reports the pharmacy group was about to be acquired by Chemist Warehouse in a reverse listing that would finally bring the privately-owned company onto the market after years of speculation.
The Australian dollar was buying 65.55 US cents, from 65.81 US cents at Wednesday's ASX close.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Thursday down 5.1 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 7,173.3.
* The broader All Ordinaries fell 2 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7,384.7.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 65.31 US cents, from 65.81 US cents at Wednesday's ASX close
* 95.82 Japanese yen, from 96.91 Japanese yen
* 60.68 Euro cents, from 60.96 Euro cents
* 52.03 British pence, from 52.20 pence
* 106.67 NZ cents, from 106.75 NZ cents.