May 1(Reuters) - Australian shares were flat on Monday as a weak performance on Wall Street checked demand ahead looming banking sector earnings and the Federal budget.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.03 percent, or 1.764 points, lower at 5,921.8 by 0252 GMT. A decisive move lower would end a seven-session winning streak. The benchmark was up 0.04 percent in the previous session.
Markets are “following the overseas lead,” said Danial Moradi, an equity strategist with Lonsec. The U.S. markets were down on Friday after the “GDP number disappointed, and a lot of the markets across Asia and Europe are closed for May day holiday so volumes might be a bit weaker.”
Wall Street edged lower on Friday as traders cashed in gains after data showed the U.S. economy grew at its weakest pace in three years in the first quarter.
“The banks’ earning season and the budget on the 9th of May are the key events over the next week or so. We’ll probably see the stocks drifting for the next few days until we see those results and the budget.”
For the 2017-18 financial year, the Australian government will focus on economic growth and address the problem of expensive housing, Treasurer Scott Morrison had said.
Among banks, Australia and New Zealand Bank and National Bank of Australia will be reporting half-year results this week.
On the day, the ‘Big 4’ banks were down between 0.1 percent and 0.6 percent, pushing the financial index 0.2 percent lower after five gaining days.
Basic material and energy stocks also lost ground with Rio Tinto falling as much as 1.4 percent, and Fortescue metals shedding 2.2 percent.
The energy index was down 0.8 percent with Woodside petroleum and Oilsearch losing 0.3 percent and 1 percent respectively.
Among gainers, consumer stocks Wesfarmers Ltd rose 1.2 percent, while Woolworth’s climbed 0.2 percent.
Industrial stocks led the gains on the index with Transurban Group and Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd up 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index pared earlier losses and was up 0.2 percent, or 15.79 points, to 7394.54 for its sixth straight session in the black.
A2 Milk Company gained more than 2 percent, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose nearly 1 percent.
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Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam