February 28, 2018 / 6:18 AM / 23 days ago

Aussie shares end lower as materials, financials weigh; NZ inches up

* BHP biggest drag on the Australian Index

* New Zealand extends gains into 6th session (Updates to close)

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares broke a five-session run of gains on Wednesday, tracking a fall in U.S. equities, while materials stocks fell in line with a dip in commodity prices.

Wall Street closed lower overnight after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell revived fears about more interest-rate increases.

Iron ore futures and base metal prices dipped.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 percent to 6,016.0 at the close of trade. The benchmark rose 0.2 percent on Tuesday.

Miner BHP Billiton pulled down the benchmark about 7 points, and dragged most heavily on the ASX 200. The stock lost about 2 percent in the day.

Materials stocks were the biggest drags, with the sector index ending 1.4 percent lower.

Financials fell in with their U.S. peers as the S&P 500 Financial Sector index shed nearly 1 percent overnight.

The finance sector ended 0.6 percent lower as the “Big Four” banks fell. Westpac Banking Corp ended 1.3 percent lower, pulling the index down nearly 5 points.

Harvey Norman Holdings <HVN.AX ended at a near 3-month low after its headline first-half profit fell more than 19 percent. The stock was the worst performer on the index.

Coal to retail conglomerate Wesfarmers and oil explorer Woodside Petroleum provided little support to the index, ending more than 1 percent higher apiece.

In New Zealand, shares rose for a sixth consecutive session on climbing healthcare and consumer staples, although gains were checked by a number of falling sectors.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.16 percent or 13.44 points to finish the session at 8,373.82.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and a2 Milk were the biggest boosts to the index, collectively pushing it up about 24 points.

Subscription television provider Sky Network Television weighed most heavily on the index, despite logging a 12 percent rise in its first-half 2018 net profit. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru Editing by Eric Meijer)

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