| March 1
March 1 Australian shares fell for a
fifth-straight day on Wednesday, pulled down by materials and
telecom stocks with Telstra Corp Ltd slumping after
going ex-dividend, as investors awaited U.S. President Donald
Trump's address to Congress.
"There is a cautious tone to trade today and the reason for
that is the potential game changing speech, that will come in
the middle of the trading session, from President Trump," said
Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist with CMC Markets.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 17.4 points or 0.3
percent to 5,694.8 by 0103 GMT. The benchmark is on track to
post its longest streak of losses sinch June 2016.
"Markets are hungry for details on the new administration's
economic policy, but at the end of the day (they) will probably
be prepared to settle for a confident outlining of the general
agenda at this stage," said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist
at CMC Markets, in a note.
Australia's largest telecom company by market value, Telstra
was the biggest drag, falling as much as 4.2 percent to hit its
lowest in more than 3-1/2 years.
Global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
fell 0.6 percent to 1.2 percent on the back of weaker iron ore
Chinese steel and iron ore futures fell nearly 3 percent on
Tuesday amid reports that the country's top economic planner was
investigating the recent surge in futures markets.
The gold index was dull for a third-straight
session, sliding 2.1 percent as the bullion price turned lower
on Tuesday. Newcrest Mining led declines, shedding as
much as 2.3 percent to hit a one-month low.
Among other stocks, Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd was
down 6.2 percent, while Crown Resorts Ltd fell 2.6
At the other end, the financial index was trading
0.2 percent firmer after the Australian Bureau of Statistics
reported gross domestic product (GDP) climbed 1.1 percent in the
The data beat market forecasts and was a welcome recovery
from the third quarter's shock 0.5 percent decline - the first
quarterly contraction for the economy since 2011, according to
Thomson Reuters Datastream.(bit.ly/2mI9FLg)
Regis Healthcare rose 3 percent and was among the
top gainers on the index.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the benchmark
by a 1.8-to-1 ratio.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2
percent or 16.02 points to 7,151.44.
Fletcher Building and Spark New Zealand
were among the biggest decliners, dropping 0.6 percent and 0.8
Sky Network Television was trading flat after it
said it will not yet cancel its agreement to buy Vodafone's New
Zealand unit after the country's competition regulator
rejected the proposal.
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(Reporting by Shashwat Pradhan; Additional reporting by Hanna
Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)