| March 3
March 3 Australian shares fell the most in over
a month on Friday morning, pressured by a selloff in financials
and materials and as Wall Street took a breather from a strong
The backdrop of downbeat commodity and metals prices was
enough to send the S&P/ASX 200 index down 55.388 points
or 1 percent to 5721.2 by 0036 GMT. The benchmark index rose 1.3
percent on Thursday.
The index was on track to lose 0.4 percent this week.
Gary Burton, a market analyst at IG Markets, attributed some
of the weakness to investors cashing in on Thursday's strong
Financial stocks tracked their U.S. peers, as Wall Street
retreated on Thursday.
The "big four" banks all fell around 1 percent.
Materials were hampered by commodity prices, as gold and
copper prices fell in the face of a strong dollar.
"We saw commodities prices down overnight...There was a bit
of weakness in the space of commodities in general,” Burton
The metals and mining index shed 2.12 percent, with miners
BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd falling as
much as 2 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
Rio Tinto has deferred for at least two years a decision on
former chief executive Sam Walsh's performance-related pay,
after a scandal over $10.5 million in payments to a consultant
Fortescue Metals Group fell as much as 5.1 percent
to over a month's low.
Consumer staples also dropped, with supplements maker
Blackmores Ltd losing as much as 1.5 percent, while
GrainCorp Ltd. dropped to its lowest in over 3 months.
On the flipside, insurer QBE Insurance Group rose as
much as 1.2 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3
percent or 20.57 points to 7155.26, weighed down by industrials
and materials stocks.
Airport operator Auckland International Airport Ltd
fell 1.4 percent, while building materials maker Fletcher
Building Ltd lost about 1 percent.
Consumer staples however, were up with dairy product maker
a2 Milk Co Ltd rising nearly 3 percent.
a2 Milk said it would acquire 8.2 percent of the fully paid
ordinary shares in Synlait Milk Ltd from
Telecom stocks also rose, with telecommunications provider
Spark New Zealand Ltd rising 1 percent.
For more individual stocks activity click on
(Reporting by Ambar Warrick; Additional reporting by Sindhu
Chandrasekaran; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)