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Australia: Shares slip again on global growth concerns


[SYDNEY] Australian shares continued a week-long slide early Friday, as concerns about growth in China and the United States weighed on resource counters while lower-than-expected bank profits hurt sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.5 per cent, or 28.3 points, to 5,238.7 by 0226 GMT. The benchmark, which has declined the past four days, fell 1.2 per cent on Thursday.

The index was on track to end the week down around 2 per cent, which would be its biggest drop since the week of Sept. 21-25. But it was headed for a monthly gain of 4 per cent, the most since July.

Friday's losses were capped by a strong rally in Asciano shares after logistics group Qube took a stake in the freight firm seeking to block a US$6.5 billion bid from Canada's Brookfield.

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Subduing the market this week has been lacklustre US corporate earnings and the chance of an interest rate hike there in December.

On Wall Street overnight, US indexes posted losses as economic growth in the third quarter braked sharply.

But the indexes remained on track for their best monthly performance in four years.

Among Australian banks, Macquarie Group was an outlier after posting a record half-year profit. It rose over 2 per cent to a 3-month high.

ANZ Banking Group fell 3.5 per cent as brokerages slashed their target prices after it posted on Thursday the weakest annual profit growth since the global financial crisis.

Westpac, which posts annual numbers on Monday, fell 1.8 per cent.

BHP Billiton was down 1.75 per cent and Rio off about 1 per cent. Fortescue fell 5 percent.

Woolworths dropped for a second day, down 2.5 per cent, after reporting weaker first quarter sales and warning first-half profit will slump by one-third.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged down 0.29 per cent or 17.63 points to 5984.00 on Friday as the market consolidated after a 12-day rally which ended earlier in the week.

Having hit an all-time high of 6014.48 on Tuesday, the market has been struggling as profit taker emerge. The possibility of a US rate hike in December also unsettled sentiment.

Fletcher Building was down 1.3 per cent, recoiling from a two-month peak set on Thursday.

Auckland airport was down 1 per cent, continuing to pull back from two month highs hit earlier in the week.

Accounting software company Xero gained 2.26 per cent after Credit Suisse upgraded it to outperform from neutral on Friday.


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