May 4 Australian shares fell for a third
straight session on Thursday, as the basic materials sector saw
a steep fall on softer metal prices and as financials lost
ground on technical selling.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 31.44 points, or 0.5
percent, to 5,861.7 by 0257 GMT. The benchmark dropped 0.98
percent on Wednesday.
The results of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting,
where they kept rates unchanged, also hurt the market as the
dollar strengthened, knocking the Aussie lower.
The Fed held fire on interest rates and downplayed weak
first-quarter economic growth and emphasised the strength of the
labour market, in a sign it could tighten monetary policy as
early as June.
Meanwhile, Australia's March trade surplus of A$3.1 billion
($2.30 billion) failed to meet economists' expectations for a
A$3.4 million surplus in a Reuters poll.
The decline in the index was led by the basic materials
sector which fell as miners declined on weaker prices of base
metals and iron ore, while gold stocks lost on an overnight
decline in gold.
Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue
Metals fell between 0.1 percent and 4.2 percent, while
Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining shed 2.1
percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
The materials index was down as much as 1.7 percent
in its eighth straight session of losses, hitting its lowest in
nearly 6 months.
The financials index was down 0.7 percent as three
of the 'Big Four' banks lost between 1.1 percent and 2 percent.
National Australia Bank was up 0.4 percent,
snapping two losing days, after it reported a 2.3 percent rise
in first-half cash profit, beating expectations.
In the financial sector, "more of what we're seeing is index
selling. Financials constitute almost half of the index." said
Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
"We're seeing a number of technically buy/selling programmes
hitting the market, and because of their index weighting, that's
turning into direct pressure on financial stocks."
Telecom stocks also fell with Telstra down 1.1
percent, and Vocus Group, which slumped nearly 30
percent on the previous session, lower at 1 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.4
percent, or 30.27 points, lower at 7,375.57, as the financial
sector extended losses with New Zealand shares of Westpac
Banking and Australia and New Zealand shares
losing well over 1 percent.
The energy sector was also lower with Z Energy down
as much as 1.7 percent, its biggest intraday percentage fall in
For more individual stocks activity click on
($1 = 1.3497 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline