(Updates to opening levels) SYDNEY, Jan 4 Australian shares slipped 0.3 percent in early morning trade on Friday, with investors pulling back after a sharp two-day rally on the Federal Reserve's growing concern about its highly stimulative monetary policy. Big miners lost ground with BHP Billiton Ltd falling 1.3 percent and Rio Tinto Ltd declining 2.0 percent, although spot iron ore prices climbed to a 15-month high of $149.80 a tonne .IO62-CNI=SI on Thursday thanks to demand from China. The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 14.1 points at 4,726.6 by 2316 GMT. It rose 0.7 percent to 4,740.7 on Thursday, its highest since May 19, 2011. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index inched up 0.1 percent to 4,084.8. (Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Stephen Coates)
UPDATE 1-Chemicals maker Synthomer sees 2016 profit ahead of estimates
Jan 20 Chemicals maker Synthomer estimated 2016 profit ahead of market expectations after stronger-than-expected trading in Europe and Asia and the sterling's weakness boosted fourth-quarter trading, pushing its stock to a record high.
Shippers avoid new "pirate hotspot" in waters west of the Philippines
SINGAPORE, Jan 20 A surge in piracy to the west of the Philippines is forcing shipowners to divert vessels through other waters, stoking their costs and extending the time it takes to transport goods such as Australian iron ore to key Asian destinations.