(Updates to close)
Dec 30 Australian shares closed lower on Friday,
but ended having had their best quarter this year and their best
yearly run since 2013.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.58 percent, or
33.27 points, at 5,665.8 on Friday, pulled down by poor
performances in financial and basic material stocks.
The benchmark financial index fell 1.1 percent on
Friday as U.S. and European bank shares eased on profit taking
with the "Big Four" banks losing over a percent each.
On the year, the index gained 4.2 percent, as Australia and
New Zealand Bank shares added 9.2 percent, while
National Australia Bank shares were up 5.5 percent,
both posting their best yearly performance since 2013.
However, shares in Australia's biggest bank by market
capitalisation, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, lost
3.7 percent this year, the biggest yearly loss in five years,
while Westpac Banking shares lost nearly three percent, falling
after four straight gaining years.
Though the metals and mining index lost 0.47 percent
on the day, it saw its best yearly run since 2009.
Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lost
over a percent each on the day. On a yearly basis, BHP gained
40.7 percent, its best in nine years, while Rio posted its best
since 2009, adding 34.2 percent.
The gold index closed the day 6.2 percent higher on
the back of rising gold prices.
Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining
climbed 5 percent and 10 percent respectively adding to their
over 50 percent yearly gain. The gold index gained 54.2 percent
this year, the most in 10 years.
Gold miner Resolute Mining was the best performer
on the broader index on a year to date basis, gaining 420
The champion performers on the Australian main index though,
were Whitehaven Coal and Fortescue Metals both
gaining over 200 percent each.
Fortescue Metals saw its best performance since 2007, on the
back of iron-ore gains, while Whitehaven Coal posted its best
run in 10 years.
New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index closed the session
0.16 percent lower, or 11.06 points, at 6,881.22, with the
decline being led by financials and industrials. The benchmark
gained 8.8 percent on the year.
Westpac Banking Corp lost 1.1 percent on the day
and 5.2 percent annually, its steepest yearly fall since 2011.
Auckland International Airport Ltd ended the year down 4.58
percent, but gained 8.7 percent on the year.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric