Feb 20 Australian stocks declined on Monday
morning, dragged down by weaker metals prices and earnings
concerns, with shares of Brambles tumbling after the
company issued a profit warning.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 24.32 points or 0.4
percent to 5,781.5 points by 0055 GMT. The benchmark eased 0.2
percent on Friday.
Ric Spooner, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets, said
softer metals prices were a drag on the market. "The other real
driving factor is the earnings season, and a lot of what is
happening on the index level is decided by profit results," he
Brambles dropped as much as 10 percent to its lowest since
September 2015 after it forecast a flat full-year underlying
profit. The pallets and container group posted a 3 percent rise
in first-half underlying profit amid increased competition in
its North American business.
Engineering services provider WorleyParsons fell as
much as 13.4 percent- its biggest percentage loss since May 2016
- to a more than three-month low after it reported a first-half
On the brighter side on earnings, steel manufacturer
Bluescope Steel hit a near 6-1/2 year high after
tripling its underlying profit for the half-year ended Dec. 31,
2016, and announcing a share buy-back of A$150 million. .
Elsewhere, miners were on the back foot, with South32
losing as much as 2.8 percent, while BHP Billiton
declined 1.1 percent.
Energy stocks were also down, with the energy index
shedding as much as 1.3 percent and on track for its fifth
consecutive session of losses.
Supermarket operator Wesfarmers, which went
ex-dividend, dropped 2.2 percent and was the second biggest drag
on the benchmark index.
The Australian financials index retreated after
earlier touching its highest in over a month.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected a
call from his government backbench to exempt the county's big
four banks from a tax package aimed at reducing company tax rate
from 30 percent to 25 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.15
percent or 10.53 points to 7104.6, helped by gains in materials
and utilities stocks.
Electricity provider Meridian Energy gained 0.8
Spark New Zealand rose 1.2 percent. The telecom
company asked a New Zealand court to rule that a 36-hour pause
must take place before Sky Network Television can buy
Vodafone's New Zealand unit if the competition regulator
approves the deal.
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($1 = 1.3036 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Suhail Hassan Bhat; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)