Dec 23 Australian shares fell on Friday, with
gains in financials and energy offset by basic material stocks
that lost traction in the wake of weak copper and Chinese iron
Wall Street ending its Trump-fuelled rally ahead of the
Christmas holiday weekend also kept sentiment subdued.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 6.3 points or 0.1 percent
to 5637.9 by 0103 GMT, ending a four-session bull run.
Copper prices fell to a one-month low on Thursday on the
stronger dollar and after a drop in imports by China fuelled
Chinese steel and iron ore futures continued to pull back,
shedding 4 percent on Thursday, after smog engulfing some
territories in China affected trade.
Losses in both these metals, along with a strong dollar,
hurt metals giant BHP Billiton, which lost 1.8 percent.
Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals followed
suit, shaving off more than 2 percent each.
"The (basic materials) sector has done pretty well over the
last couple of months, post (U.S. presidential) election, so I
wouldn't be surprised to see a bit of profit-taking before the
holidays," said Danial Moradi, an equity strategist with Lonsec.
Tatts, Australia's largest betting operator, fell 3
percent when it rejected a $5.27 billion takeover bid from a
consortium backed by KKR and Macquarie Group,
in favour of the offer from Tabcorp Holdings.
Energy shares outperformed when overnight oil prices
recovered, underpinned by strong U.S. economic data and
optimism producers would abide by the agreement to limit output.
The U.S. Commerce Department issued data showing that the
economy grew at 3.5 percent in the third quarter, the strongest
growth rate since the third quarter of 2014.
Oil majors Woodside Petroleum rose 0.7 percent,
while Oil Search added 0.4 percent.
Financials, which have rallied since Donald Trump's
election to president, continued their upward trend, with all
the "Big four' banks higher.
ANZ Banking hit its highest in 16 months, gaining
as much as 0.6 percent. The stock rose for a fifth week, out of
seven weeks, after Donald Trump's election as President of the
National Australia Bank hit a 13-month high, while
Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose to an 11-month
high, both up for a seventh straight week.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4
percent or 25.12 points to 6,876.9, gaining for a fifth session,
and led by industrials.
Auckland International Airport was the biggest
gainer on the index, up 2.3 percent, after reporting a 12.9
percent increase in international passengers for November.
Exchange operator NZX Ltd rose a percent, while
Heartland Bank gained 2 percent.
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(Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Additional reporting by Susan
Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)