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Australia: Shares fall as Greece weighs


[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell for a second straight session on Monday in broad-based selling after Greece's talks with lenders to avert a default ended with no agreement.

Uncertainty around Greece's membership of the euro currency bloc after failure to reach a deal and the US Federal Reserve's policy statement this week are seen keeping investors cautious.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.5 per cent, or 27 points to 5,517.7 by 0211 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.2 per cent on Friday.

Australia's resource-dependent economy has been hurt by a crash in commodity prices, with the benchmark index on track for its fourth straight month of losses in June. It is already down 4.6 per cent so far this month. "Greece is the word at the moment," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at OptionsXpress. "We need a solution or some finality so the market can get on with life, with or without Greece. That's certainly what's weighing down Australia at the moment." Financials led the losses on Monday with Westpac down over 1 per cent while CBA fell 0.5 per cent.

The "Big Four" banks have been a major drag on the index this year as shareholders brace for slower growth and an onerous capital regime after a golden era of record profits and strong dividends near an end.

The energy sector was down nearly 2 per cent led by losses in oil on worries about a global supply glut.

Supermarket Metcash rose 3.6 per cent on sale of its automotive business.

Miner Arrium Ltd fell 5 per cent to its lowest since April 23 on further restructure of its mining business.

Major miners BHP and Rio Tinto were down 0.3 and 0.11 per cent respectively.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand stocks opened with a soft tone, sending the benchmark NZX-50 index down 0.3 per cent to 5,829.22 driven by falls for most of the leading stocks.

Among the leading stocks, casino operator Sky City was down 1.1 per cent, with Fletcher Building nearly 1 per cent lower, and smaller falls for Auckland International Airport and software company Xero.

Contact Energy and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare bucked the trend, rising just under 1 per cent, with the fall in the New Zealand dollar to near five year lows seen boosting the latter stock's overseas earnings.

Other gains were mostly in small and mid-cap stocks including NZ Refining, share market operator NZX , and Air New Zealand.