Dec 13 Australian shares were subdued on
Tuesday, ahead of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, in
which the central bank is expected to raise its reference
interest rate and may also give markets a glimpse of its plans
for the coming year.
The S&P/ASX 200 index, which started off under
strong selling pressure, was flat at 5,568.1 by 0140 GMT, as
gains in defensive stocks were offset by losses in financials.
The benchmark index has risen 3 percent over the n previous
"After a decent run, the first thing to do is take profit
and worry later," said Mathan Somasundaram, a quantitative
strategist with Baillieu Holst.
"Markets are probably expecting heightened rate rise cycles;
we're looking at three to four next year. The Fed will probably
talk it down to two. That'll flatten out the yield curve a bit
more on a long-term basis and should bring down U.S. dollar and
take pressure off everything."
Investors will also be looking to for China's industrial
output data for November due later in the day, which is expected
to show 6.1 percent growth.
The ASX financial index fell 0.3 percent, with
Westpac and Commonwealth Bank of Australia
being the biggest drag.
Overnight, U.S. S&P 500 financial sector fell 0.9
percent following five consecutive weeks of gains.
The ASX financial index has risen more than 13 percent since
Donald Trump's election victory on Nov. 8, tracking U.S. banks,
which gained on expectations that Trump would push lower taxes
and reduced regulation - boosting the banking sector.
Defensive stocks including healthcare and consumers counters
saw gains, with retail giants Wesfarmers and Woolworths
adding 1.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Medical device marker ResMed Inc added 0.6 percent,
while CSL Ltd climbed 2.3 percent.
Energy stocks also gained after oil prices hit an 18-month
high after OPEC and some non-members agreed to cut output.
Woodside Petroleum was among top movers on the
benchmark energy index.
The ASX mining index saw some selling, despite the
iron price charging to its strongest in almost three years.
Global Miner BHP Billiton, which has significant
oil interests, added 0.6 percent, while Rio Tinto fell
The number of declining issues was nearly equal to number of
advancers on the ASX.
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New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2
percent, or 12.480 to 6,863.56.
Losses were led by consumer and healthcare stocks.
a2 Milk Company Ltd fell 2.6 percent, while Ryman
Healthcare fell 1.2 percent.
(Reporting by Suhail Hassan Bhat; Additional reporting by
Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)