Nov 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares were little changed on Thursday as a takeover offer for Santos Ltd boosted confidence in energy stocks, though wider gains were offset by a decline in newspaper publisher Fairfax Media ahead of its property portal spinoff.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1 percent or 6.135 points to 5,927.8 by 0104 GMT. The benchmark dropped 0.6 percent on Wednesday.
Santos Ltd confirmed it had received a takeover bid from U.S. investment vehicle Harbour Energy in August but rejected the offer, describing the price as “inadequate”.
Its shares jumped as much as 13 percent to their highest level in 14 months on expectations another offer may emerge.
“Energy stocks gained over speculation that a cash bid for Santos would mean that institutional investors would have to buy other stocks in the sector,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
Weighing on the index, Fairfax Media plunged 34.2 percent to its lowest level since Feb. 13, 2014.
Earlier this month, Fairfax Media said its shareholders had agreed to spin off of its real estate classifieds unit, Domain Holdings Australia Ltd, into a standalone listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. “Fairfax Media is trading ex-bonus, meaning shareholders holding shares in Fairfax as of yesterday’s close will receive an entitlement to the Domain spin-off. Fairfax is now trading without the value of Domain embedded in it,” McCarthy said.
Most metals prices were lower amid concerns about a slowing economy in China, the world’s top commodities consumer.
Miner BHP Billiton was 0.9 percent lower while Rio Tinto slipped 0.1 percent.
Santos was the biggest percentage gainer among energy stocks while Origin Energy and Beach Energy also rose, gaining as much as 1.9 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Woodside Petroleum, however, is on track to end its third straight session lower after Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday it had sold its entire stake in the firm for $2.7 billion.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.1 percent, or 10.23 points, to 8010.71.
a2 Milk gained as much as 3.5 percent and Xero Ltd rose 2.2 percent.
For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nicole Pinto in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)