Feb 21 Australian shares nudged lower on Tuesday
morning as the earnings season kept many investors sidelined,
with Oil Search falling after reporting an annual drop in
profits while losses in financial stocks dragged on the main
Besides the earnings season, which has seen a fare share of
disappointments so far, investors are also awaiting data on
wages growth, construction and capex, as well as two appearances
by central bank chief Philip Lowe.
"There is a little bit of profit taking hitting the market
today - we don't have any leads from Wall Street to work off
this morning," said Ben LeBrun, a market analyst with
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 10.29 points or 0.2
percent to 5,784.8 points by 0033 GMT.
The main focus for the market on the day is first half
earnings from global miner BHP Billiton Ltd expected
later. The stock rose 0.6 percent, while Rio Tinto Ltd
climbed 1 percent.
Sentiment for the miners was boosted by copper prices which
bounced back above $6,000 a tonne on Monday as a dispute
affecting production at the world's second-biggest copper mine
Elsewhere, weaker earnings kept buyers at bay. Job
classifieds portal Seek Ltd slid as much as 3.8
percent, its biggest intra-day percentage decline in more than
three months, after announcing a 69 percent fall in its
first-half net profit.
Oil Search Ltd was down 1.8 percent after it
reported a 70 percent drop in annual core profit, hit by weak
oil and gas prices.
Brambles Ltd extended its losses, slumping 3
percent to over a 2-year low after the pallets and container
group issued a profit warning on Monday.
The financial index edged 0.3 percent lower after
four straight days of gains. Westpac Banking Corp fell
as much as 0.6 percent before paring losses after it said its
level of stressed assets fell slightly in the three months to
"The financial sector has run very hard in recent times, so
we're seeing some degree of profit taking," Optionsxpress'
For more individual stocks activity click on
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at
Gains in materials and consumer discretionary stocks were
offset by declines in telecom and healthcare stocks.
Scales Corp was the top percentage gainer, rising
2.9 percent to hit a record high.
Among the big losers was Comvita Ltd which shed 2.9
percent after it reported a net loss after tax for the six
months ended Dec. 31.
(Reporting by Shashwat Pradhan; Additional Reporting by
Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)