April 6 Australian shares edged lower on
Thursday, following Wall Street's fall overnight, after the U.S.
Federal Reserve signalled it could begin cutting its large
balance sheet earlier than expected.
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.6 percent, or 36.50
points at 5,839.70 by 0217 GMT.
Minutes from the March Fed meeting showed most policymakers
thought the U.S. central bank should take steps to begin
trimming its $4.5 trillion balance sheet later this year. Banks
had expected no changes until mid-2018.
"The big turnaround we saw in the United States is bleeding
through into our market," Christopher Conway, head of research
and trading at Australian Stock Report.
Aussie financial stocks lost 1.3 percent tracking
their U.S. peers, with the "Big Four" losing between 1-1.6
Australia's banking watchdog said on Wednesday that
authorities can and will take further action if needed to stop a
debt-fuelled bubble in the country's red-hot housing market.
"Bank stocks may be key to the ASX 200 today, as investors
assess the possibility of banks being required to increase
capital to support housing loans," said Ric Spooner Chief Market
analyst at CMC Markets.
Investors were also wary ahead of a potentially tense
meeting later on Thursday between U.S. President Donald Trump
and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Topping the agenda will be whether Trump makes good on his
threat to use U.S.-China trade ties to pressure Beijing to do
more to rein in its nuclear-armed neighbour North Korea.
Energy stocks also lost ground due to a fall in oil
prices, as record U.S. crude inventories underscored that
markets remain bloated by high production and brimming storage.
Shares in BHP Billiton Ltd fell 0.7 percent after
it said it won't meet its export commitments from the
cyclone-struck northeast Australia.
Gold stocks gained due to "a shift in risk sentiment,"
The gold index rose nearly 2 percent to its highest in over
five weeks. Newcrest Mining Ltd rose 0.6 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1
percent to 7,275.34 points by 0217 GMT. The benchmark hit an
intraday high of 7,281.74, the highest since October 2016.
Energy and consumer stocks accounted for most of the gains.
Z Energy Ltd rose 2.5 percent, while a2 Milk Company
Ltd gained 1.6 percent.
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(Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Sandhya Sampath; Editing by Randy Fabi)