| June 1
June 1 Australian shares inched up on Thursday
as gains in defensive and industrial stocks outweighed a slump
in consumer cyclicals after Morgan Stanley downgraded retailing
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.1 percent to 5,731.1
at 0337 GMT, thanks to healthcare and utility stocks after
commodity-driven stocks and financials also declined.
The benchmark posted a 0.1 percent gain on Wednesday.
Wesfarmers was the biggest drag on the benchmark on
Thursday. It lost 3.8 percent, after Morgan Stanley downgraded
its rating and target price, saying the market was
underestimating Amazon.com's impact on Wesfarmers' A$20
billion ($14.79 billion) non-food retail sales.
In mid-May, the retail-to-mining conglomerate cancelled
plans for an offering by its office supply unit, underscoring
uncertainty in a retail sector hit by weak spending and facing
the arrival of online shopping giant Amazon.com.
Even better-than-expected Australian retail sales numbers
for April, released on Thursday, failed to cheer.
Rival Woolworths was flat.
Energy and basic materials stocks continued their downward
ride amid worries about oversupply kept hit commodity and oil
Iron ore futures in China fell to their lowest since
November. Oil prices, however, climbed after a 3 percent dive
overnight, though this did not support energy shares.
Miners Rio Tinto and BHP were off 1.5
percent and 2 percent respectively, and iron-ore miner Fortescue
Metals Group fell 4 percent.
Australia's oil and gas majors Woodside Petroleum
and Oil Search Ltd both lost about 0.6 percent.
Healthcare and utilities stocks posted impressive gains.
CSL Ltd, Australia's biggest healthcare stock by
market value, was 1.7 up percent, tracking gains of peers in the
Michael McCarthy, an analyst at CMC Markets, said "Investors
are only buying stocks that have been under pressure recently,"
Industrials stocks Transurban Group and Sydney
Airport Holdings added about 1 percent each.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.4
percent, or 29 points, at 7448.93.
Telcos and industrials boosted the benchmark, with Spark New
Zealand and Air New Zealand up 2 percent and
3.8 percent respectively, the benchmark's biggest gainers.
These profits helped overshadow a slide in financials as
Westpac and ANZ's NZ-listed shares falling 1.8
percent and 0.4 percent respectively.
($1 = 1.3521 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Additional reporting by Nicole
Pinto in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)