(Updates to close)
Feb. 28 Australian shares fell for the fourth
straight session on Tuesday, erasing earlier gains, as investors
buckled up for U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to Congress
later in the day.
Trump is expected use the major policy speech to a joint
session of Congress to preview some elements of his plans on
infrastructure spending and tax cuts.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose as much as 0.6 percent
earlier in the session but ended down 0.2 percent, or nearly 12
points, at 5,712.2.
For the month of February, the benchmark index gained 1.6
Basic materials and consumer staples widened losses on
Tuesday, offsetting gains in the energy sector.
Gold stocks were the biggest drag on the materials sector,
with St Barbara shedding 11.2 percent and Resolute
Mining tanking 12.3 percent, its biggest percentage
loss in 19 months.
Major miner Rio Tinto was 0.8 percent lower, while
peer BHP Billiton was flat.
Consumer stocks were pulled down by retailer Woolworths
, which shed 1.6 percent.
On the other hand, the energy sector managed to hold onto
its gains on the back of higher oil prices.
Oil major Santos Ltd added 2.2 percent.
Engineering firm WorleyParsons Ltd, however, was
the star of the sector, jumping 32 percent after Dubai-based
private network of professional services firms Dar Group took a
stake in the company.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished
1.2 percent, or 88.28 points, higher at 7,167.46. The rise took
its gains in February to 1.7 percent.
Gains were broad-based with financials, industrials, and
healthcare leading the way.
Metlifecare Ltd and Chorus Ltd were the
biggest gainers on the benchmark, each adding over 3 percent.
(Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim