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Australia shares fall on financials, materials; NZ snaps 2-week decline
March 3, 2017 / 6:01 AM / 9 months ago

Australia shares fall on financials, materials; NZ snaps 2-week decline

(Updates to close)

March 3 - Australian shares ended lower on Friday, shadowing Wall Street which took a breather from a strong run, with materials and financials leading the broad-based selloff.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.8 percent, or 46.588 points, down at 5,730.00, posting its biggest intraday percentage loss in over a month. It lost 0.2 percent on the week.

Risk of an imminent U.S. interest rate hike soured Wall Street’s party as the reality of rising borrowing costs began to sink in. Fed Chair Janet Yellen and Vice Chair Stanley Fischer are slated to speak later in the day.

All major sectors, except telecom stocks, traded in negative territory.

Gary Burton, a market analyst at IG Markets, attributed some of the weakness to investors cashing in on Thursday’s strong gains.

The benchmark index rose 1.3 percent on Thursday.

Financials, tracked their U.S. peers, ending 0.7 percent lower, with the “Big Four” banks losing between 0.6 to 1.3 percent.

Materials were dragged down by commodity prices, as gold and copper prices fell in the face of a strong dollar.

The benchmark mining index lost as much as 2.7 percent, its biggest intraday percentage loss in over 13 weeks.

Global miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton ended 4.1 percent and 1.4 percent lower respectively.

On the other end, QBE Insurance Group resisted losses by ending 1.8 percent higher.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent, or 14.96 points, to finish the session at 7,160.87. The index added 1.5 percent on the week, snapping two weeks of losses.

Financials were the biggest drag on the benchmack index, with all the constituents of the sector finishing lower.

Westpac Banking Corp fell 1.3 percent, while Sky Network Television Ltd lost 2.7 percent.

Reporting by Sandhya Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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