| April 3
April 3 Australian shares were flat on Monday as
gains in financials slightly outweighed the losses in the basic
material sector, which slipped on falling iron ore and copper
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1 percent, or 3.4
points to 5,868.8 at 0145 GMT.
Financial stocks gained with three of the 'Big Four' banks
rising between 0.06 percent and 0.4 percent. Westpac Banking
Corp however lost 0.03 percent.
"Financials have had a good run, driving the market, but
today they are flat. So, people don't really know what to make
of the financial sector in Australia at the moment," said Chris
Weston, an institutional dealer at IG Markets.
Banks are focusing on their loan books and investor lending,
and are looking at leverage in the property market, Weston said.
"Also, they are raising rates independently and that is
really helping their margins as well."
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission on
Monday said it was launching a new round of industry
surveillance to ensure banks and brokers were not recommending
overly expensive interest-only loans to customers.
This comes after the banking watchdog, Australian Prudential
Regulation Authority, said it would tighten rules on
Meanwhile, home prices in Australia's major cities jumped
again in March to propel annual growth to the fastest in almost
Among commodity stocks, miners Rio Tinto and
Fortescue Metals lost 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent
respectively, while BHP Billiton, which has significant
oil interests, shed 0.7 percent.
Chinese iron ore futures had fallen 3 percent on Friday, and
copper fell more than 1 percent on Friday as the end of a
strike at Peru's biggest copper mine dampened fears of reduced
Oil futures also dipped in early Asian trade on Monday on
worries about global oversupply after a higher U.S. rig count
pointed to rising U.S. shale production, while a stronger dollar
also put pressure on crude.
Energy stocks were lower with Worley Parsons losing 2
percent, while Woodside Petroleum lost 0.3 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index 0.2
percent, or 16.39 points, higher at 7,213.17 extending gains
into its fifth straight session. Trade was delayed at the open
by a technical problem.
A2 Milk Company and Argosy Property led
the gains, rising more than 2 percent each, with A2 Milk rising
to an all-time high of NZ$3.09.
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(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; additional reporting
by Sandhya Sampath; Editing by Eric Meijer)