(Updates to close)
Jan 12 Australian shares revered course to
finish marginally lower on Thursday as healthcare stocks
followed their U.S. peers lower after U.S. President-elect
Donald Trump's comments on the sector, offseting gains in basic
materials and energy shares.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1 percent, or 4.58
points, to 5,766.9 at the close of trade. The benchmark, which
was up earlier in the day, gained 0.2 percent in the previous
Healthcare stocks were hard hit, taking their cue from U.S.
peers after Trump said pharmaceutical companies were "getting
away with murder" by charging high prices.
Worst hit were sector giant CSL Ltd, which lost
2.8 percent, and Mayne Pharma, down 4 percent.
Both companies have significant U.S. exposure.
Keeping the market reasonably steady, basic materials and
energy shares remained resilient thanks to a weaker dollar after
Trump's conference, which failed to offer details on his
promises to boost fiscal spending and cut taxes.
Mining giants Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and
Fortescue Metals gained between 1 percent and 1.3
Rio Tinto and Fortescue also finished higher for a third
straight session, while oil and gas explorers Woodside Petroleum
and Santos each added around 1 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished 6
points lower at 7,063.59 as losses in telcos weighed on energy
Telephone services firm Spark New Zealand, down 3.4
percent, was the benchmark's biggest loser.
Electricity generator Infratil and New Zealand
Refining Co, up 1.8 percent and 2.6 percent
respectively, were the index's top two gainers.
(Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri