May 12 Australian shares slipped on Friday, hurt
by financials, while strong gains in the materials sector driven
by gold and copper prices helped curtail some of the losses.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 percent, or 41.44
points to 5,836.9 by 0233 GMT. The benchmark is on track to end
the week flat.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking
Corp both fell 0.7 percent, dragging the financials
"On the bank side of things, it continues to be dominated by
the levy," said Tony Farnham, economist at Patersons Securities.
"We had the shake-out on Tuesday on banks. Then on Wednesday
and Thursday people were sniffing around for a bargain at lower
prices, (thinking) things are not quite as bad as people first
thought. Now, that is open for debate. If they cut dividends, a
lot of income-conscious people will be miffed," Farnham added.
Sentiment was also affected by Wall Street, which fell on
Thursday after worse-than-expected sales drops at Macy's
and Kohls Corp sparked a sell-off in shares of
department stores and stirred fears that consumers are not
spending enough to drive strong economic growth.
The declines on the Australian benchmark were broad-based
with nine out of 10 sectors in the red.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the index by
a 5.2-to-1 ratio.
The mining sector was among the few bright spots,
underpinned by a rise in gold and copper prices.
Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd
climbed 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, as
copper prices touched a one week-high on Thursday after funds
cut bearish bets.
In the gold space, Newcrest Mining Ltd jumped as
much as 4.1 percent, posting its biggest intra-day percentage
gain in eight weeks, after the yellow metal rose on Thursday
following eight sessions in which prices had been flat or
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dipped 0.3
percent, or 20.08 points, to 7,469.63.
Most real estate stocks were in the red after data from the
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed that the pace of
house price growth in the country slowed in April.
A2 Milk Ltd was the biggest drag, falling as much
as 5.8 percent to record its biggest intra-day percentage fall
in eleven weeks. The dairy company had touched a record high in
the earlier session.
In other stocks, Kathmandu Holdings fell 4.3
percent while Freightways Ltd was 1.4 percent lower.
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(Additional reporting by Rushil Dutta in BENGALURU; Editing by