The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.9 percent, or
51.358 points, at 5,882.5 at 0248 GMT.
"There's been a decent selloff in mining stocks because iron
ore’s been absolutely flogged last night, the futures market
continues to gravitate lower in a raging bear market now," said
Chris Weston, Institutional lender at IG Markets.
"So people are all concerned about holding materials equity
Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was 0.3
percent lower after falling to its lowest price since Jan. 10 in
the previous session, while copper slid to three-month lows on
Crude oil futures moved away from one-month highs as worries
on rising U.S. inventories stoked concerns about global
The market also tracked Wall Street, which fell overnight on
geopolitical tensions and after President Donald Trump told the
Wall Street Journal that the dollar "was getting too strong,"
and he would like to see interest rates stay low.
The materials and mining index fell 3.4 percent as
BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals
lost between 4.9 percent and 6.6 percent.
BHP Billiton extended losses into a third session, falling
as much as 4.3 percent. The company rejected minor shareholder
Elliot Advisor's proposal to overhaul its corporate structure
and spin off its U.S. oil division on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Credit Suisse sees BHP and CSL Ltd as a
potential targets of hedge fund activism.
Trade data from China showed that iron ore imports rose 12.2
percent year-on-year, in the first quarter of the year, though
worries are growing about swelling inventories at Chinese
Fortescue Metals reported a 6 percent fall in third-quarter
shipments on Thursday but assured it was still headed for a
The energy index slid up to 2 percent as Woodside
Petroleum and Oilsearch fell over 2 percent.
Whitehaven coal plunged as much as 8.1 percent after
reporting a 11 percent decline in quarterly coal sales while
also warning that outages caused by cyclone Debbie will impact
coking coal prices for months.
On the brighter side, job data showed that March employment
in Australia rose by 60,900, beating expectations.
Gold stocks in the region gained as safe haven demand rose
after Trump's comments on the dollar weakened the greenback.
Newcrest Mining gained 0.6 percent, while Evolution
Mining gained nearly 2.3 percent.
Telecom stocks lost as Telstra and Vocus Group
lost 1.3 and 6.2 percent respectively.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1.1
percent, or 7.7 points, to 7,243.84.
Tegel Group and Restaurant Brands led the
losses, falling 3.4 percent and 1.3 percent respectively, while
Argosy Property and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare
led gains, rising 2 percent and 1.6 percent
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(Additional reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by