(Updates to close)
March 8 Australian shares ended marginally lower
on Wednesday as falls in iron ore prices the previous day and in
China's February iron ore imports pulled miners down.
The S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose the past two days,
was off 0.03 percent, or 4.89 points, to end at 5,756.4.
The mining index declined for the second straight
session. BHP Billiton lost more than 1 percent and
Fortescue Metals shed 0.6 percent.
China's iron ore imports in February fell to 83.49 mln
tonnes, down 9.3 percent from January, data from China's customs
authority showed on Wednesday.
Chinese iron ore futures fell on Tuesday pressured by a
rising mountain of the raw material at China's ports and weaker
The gold index fell 0.7 percent as gold prices held
near 4-week lows amid growing expectations of a U.S. rate hike
Newcrest Mining was 0.7 percent lower while
Evolution Mining lost more than 2 percent.
The biggest loser on the benchmark index was baby-food maker
Bellamy's Australia which fell 4 percent after the
filing of a second shareholder lawsuit alleging breaches of
continuous disclosure rules.
Financial stocks ended flat with three of the 'Big 4' banks
gaining between 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent. Commonwealth Bank
of Australia was 0.4 percent lower.
Among gainers, industrial and healthcare stocks gained as
Sydney Airport added 1.3 percent and CSL Ltd
rose for a second straight session, climbing 0.8 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.148
percent, or 10.6 points, higher at 7,178.23 on Wednesday. The
index barely moved through the day after the exchange's opening
was delayed by 90 minutes due to a technical problem.
A gain in financials was countered by a steep loss in
consumer cyclicals and industrial stocks.
New Zealand listed shares of ANZ Bank gained more
than 1 percent while Auckland International Airport and
Fletcher Building lost 0.4 and 1.1 percent
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard