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Australia, New Zealand: Shares edge lower

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares dipped on Wednesday, falling for the first time in three sessions as revived expectations of an US interest rate hike weighed, though stronger commodities prices offset some of the losses.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1 per cent or 7.74 points to 5,388.1 by 0230 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.69 per cent on Tuesday.

"The market seems to be nervous about U.S. data holding up better than expected and two Fed speakers coming out and being hawkish for a rate hike in June," said Angus Nicholson, market analyst, IG Markets.

"That has sent some jitters through the market."

Financial stocks weighed on the index, with shares in National Australia Bank Ltd and Macquarie Bank Ltd both falling more than one per cent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia edged down nearly 0.5 per cent.

Losses were curbed though by stronger commodity markets, which aided the country's miners and resource companies.

Shares in BHP Billiton Ltd rose nearly 2 per cent to hit more than a two-week high, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd rose one per cent to also hit a 14-day top after iron ore prices rallied as much as 3 per cent overnight Shares in Origin Energy rose nearly 3 per cent as prices hit a five-month high, drawing support as the price of oil hovered close to a 2016 high.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged down 0.3 per cent or 18.90 points to 6,955.97.

Steel Tube fell 3.11 per cent after the steel products processor said full-year 2016 profits were expected to fall short of the previous year.

Accounting software company Xero lost 2.4 per cent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare lost 1.2 per cent.

Mobile payment app Pushpay Holdings fell 3.08 per cent after announcing its net loss had increased almost 160 per cent.

Infrastructure company Infratil was among the biggest gainers, rising 1.21 per cent after the company announced its full-year results.

Heartland Bank rose 0.85 per cent after announcing its nine-month net profits were up 10 per cent.

REUTERS