(Updates to close)
Feb 24 Australian shares finished lower on
Friday, as sliding iron ore and copper prices dragged down the
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.8 percent, or
45.66 points, at 5,739 by the close of trade. The benchmark was
off 0.4 percent on Thursday.
China's iron ore futures slid nearly 5 percent and were
headed for a weekly loss, coming off a rapid rally underpinned
by expectations that strong infrastructure spending would spur
steel demand in the world's top consumer.
Copper prices also tumbled as worries about demand in China
resurfaced after the country's housing minister suggested moves
were afoot to stabilise the property market, while a firm dollar
reinforced negative sentiment.
The S&P/ASX 200 materials index fell for a third
straight session to more than a six-week low.
BHP Billiton, the world's largest miner by market
capitalisation, slumped to over a seven-week low, its third
successive day in the red.
Global miners Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group
Ltd dropped 4.2 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
Financial stocks also took a beating, weighed down by the
"Big 4" banks that lost 0.2 to 0.7 percent.
The worst performer on the main index was business
management software maker Myob Group Ltd, diving 6.8
percent to an eight-month intraday low on a selldown by Bain
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.4
percent, or 30.94 points lower, to finish the session at
The index fell to its lowest in three weeks, with
industrials, utilities and healthcare stocks leading the losses.
Auckland International Airport Ltd and Fisher &
Paykel Healthcare Corp slipped 1.7 percent, while
Mercury NZ Ltd fell 2.6 percent.
Retail company Warehouse Group Ltd, the biggest
loser on the index, fell 2.6 percent to a three-week intraday
(Reporting by Christina Martin; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)