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Financials drag as Australian shares fall; NZ dips
January 13, 2017 / 1:27 AM / a year ago

Financials drag as Australian shares fall; NZ dips

Jan 13 (Reuters) - The Australian share market fell on Friday, dragged down by financial stocks and tracking Wall Street lower as investors booked profits, while rising base metals and oil prices failed to boost miners and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.8 percent, or 44.154 points, to 5,722.7 by 0100 GMT. Trading volumes were 30 percent of the 30-day average. The index is on track for its first weekly loss in four weeks.

Wall Street closed lower on Thursday, with financials leading losses on the S&P 500, as investors waited for quarterly earnings and details of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s economic policies ahead of his inauguration.

“There is a little bit of profit taking coming in for financials ... There doesn’t seem to be a risk-on at the moment,” said Gary Burton, market analyst at IG Markets.

“It’s really a wait and see for the U.S. reporting to see how that kicks off,” Burton added

The local financials index shed as much as 1.5 pct, its biggest drop in over five weeks, with the “Big Four” banks losing between 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent each.

Energy stocks and miners pared early gains and were flat to lower despite overnight gains in oil and most base metals.

Mining heavyweights Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Billiton Ltd were in negative territory along with Woodside Petroleum Ltd.

The biggest losers on the benchmark were nickel miners, which plunged after Indonesia eased an export ban on nickel ore and bauxite on Thursday. Western Areas Ltd dived as much as 16.8 percent to a two-month low, while Independence Group NL recorded its biggest percentage fall in over eight months of 9.5 percent.

Gold stocks bucked the trend to rise to a near two-month top, aided by a rise in bullion prices to their highest in seven weeks on a weak dollar. Newcrest Mining Ltd jumped as much as 2.7 percent to a more than eight-week high.

Organic baby formula maker Bellamy’s Australia Ltd extended its fall after it cut its revenue forecast and appointed a temporary new CEO, making it third biggest loser on the main index.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3 pct to 7,041.86, weighed down by utilities, telecom and materials.

Telecom heavyweight Spark New Zealand Ltd and Fletcher Building Ltd were among the top drags on the main index.

Reporting by Geo Tharappel in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran; Editing by Richard Pullin

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