(Updates to close)
May 15 - Australian shares ended steady on Monday as
financials and telecom stocks held on to their gains, while
Fairfax Media soared on a takeover bid.
A weak materials sector pressured the S&P/ASX 200 index
, which closed 0.03 percent, or 1.5 points, higher at
5838.402. The benchmark fell 0.7 percent on Friday.
The "Big 4" banks gained between 0.7 to 1 percent, led by
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the top gainer on the
The gains for the financial sector came even as bank stocks
on Wall Street were weighed down by soft retail sales and
monthly inflation data on Friday.
Fairfax Media Ltd jumped as much as 8.4 percent to
its highest in over 6 years after the newspaper publisher
received a revised cash bid led by U.S. buyout firm TPG Capital
Management for all of its shares.
All sectors except the financial and telecom stocks were in
the red with mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
, both around 1 percent lower, weighing on the index the
"Iron ore has come off a long way over the past month and
that's continuing to undermine the basic materials sector," said
Damien Hennessy of Heuristic Investment Systems.
Iron ore dropped for the seventh week to near four-month
lows, dragged down by worries over weak demand in
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ticked 0.3
percent, or 22.44 points, lower to finish the session at
7429.94, with a surge in the country's retail sales in April
doing little to limit the downside.
A2 Milk, the biggest decliner in the benchmark,
fell 3.5 percent, while Trustpower Ltd was the biggest
gainer, rising 1.6 percent to an all time high.
(Reporting by Hanna Paul; Additional Reporting by Susan Mathew;
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)