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By Aparajita Saxena
Dec 30 Financial shares dragged Australian
stocks lower in morning trade on Friday, following leads from
U.S. and European bank shares that eased on profit taking.
The market was further dented by material stocks that came
under pressure from losses in copper and Chinese steel.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 10.7 points or
0.2 percent to 5,688.3 by 0133 GMT.
It rose 7.4 percent this year, rebounding from last year's
Financial shares underperformed other sectors on
Friday, with the "Big Four" banks down more than a percent each.
The overall index gained 5.3 percent this year.
Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
also shaved off gains, dragging the materials and metals
index after slipping over a percent each.
Over the year though, BHP Billiton gained 42.8 percent,
while Rio Tinto rose 35.8 percent.
Materials outperformed in 2016, with the materials index
up about 40 percent, and broader metals index up
Energy shares snapped five sessions of gains on
Friday, to fall 0.8 percent after oil futures backtracked on
"In a broader sense, when Donald Trump was elected, the
first thing he suggested was that he was going to undo the
Trans-Pacific trade deal, which Australia is a part of. That may
undermine some agricultural areas. Other than that, I think
strength in commodities will be good for the markets overall,"
says Gary Burton, market analyst at IG, for the year ahead.
Whitehaven Coal fell 3 percent, leading sector
Gold explorers Newcrest Mining and Perseus Mining
rose 4.7 percent each during the session, after gold
prices advanced to their highest in more than two weeks on
The gold index jumped 45.3 percent this year,
posting its yearly best performance in 16 years.
Healthcare stocks were the worst performers this year.
Estia Health hit a record low in 2016, eroding
about 63 percent of its share price.
Sirtex Medical, already the worst performer of
2016, down more than 60 percent, slid 0.8 percent on Friday. The
company has been underperforming the broader S&P/ASX 200 Health
Care (GIC) Index this year, and tumbled 37 percent on
December 9 on a poor earnings outlook, according to Thomson
Reuters Datastream. (bit.ly/2iKn5Vg)
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2
percent or 11.06 points to 6,881.2.
The index rose 9 percent in 2016, gaining for a fifth
Industrials led losses on Friday, with Auckland
International Airport losing the most.
Air New Zealand was among the gainers, up 1.2
percent on the day.
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(Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Additional reporting by
Shashwat Pradhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)