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Australia: Shares snap 4-day gains; energy stocks, gold miners weigh

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 09:58
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Australian shares fell 0.6 per cent on Tuesday as investors booked profits after a 4-day rally, and resources- and energy-related companies were hit by a slide in oil and metals prices.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell 0.6 per cent on Tuesday as investors booked profits after a 4-day rally, and resources- and energy-related companies were hit by a slide in oil and metals prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 34.06 points to 5,407.90 by 0115 GMT amid low volumes. The benchmark closed up 2 per cent on Monday, helping erase this year's losses. "There's been a positive bias in the last four sessions but if energy stocks continue to slide you could see this year's gains for the index being compromised," said Tom Piotrowski, market analyst at Commonwealth Securities.

The index is up 1.05 per cent so far this year, rising 5.6 per cent in just the last 4 sessions. "OPEC is committed to putting downward pressure on energy prices. That's putting a lot of pressure on marginal producers globally. It's a very aggressive strategy," he added.

Senex Energy, Liquified Natural Gas, Horizon Oil and Sundance Energy were down 7-13.5 per cent.

The big banks were marginally down while large miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 1.5-2 per cent.

Gold miners such as OceanaGold Corp, Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining slumped 8.4-10.5 per cent after gold dropped nearly 2 per cent on Monday. Newcrest was down 3 per cent.

Atlas Iron jumped nearly 7 per cent on government royalty relief.

Elsewhere, Treasury Wine Estate rose to near 1-month highs after a court ruling.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 put on 0.38 per cent to an all-time closing high, while the Dow added 0.87 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.34 percent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX50 share index edged up around 0.3 per cent to an all-time intraday high of 5,560.31, tracking gains in global shares, while gains in Xero also lifted the market.

The fast-growing accounting software company rose 2.4 per cent to NZ$15.61 (US$12), after it issued an optimistic year-end letter to shareholders which lifted shares from a two-month low of NZ$15.25 hit the previous day.

Overall gains were tempered by a 1.4 per cent slide in Vector to NZ$2.81 after the energy retailer said it had been issued with court proceedings in a gas treatment dispute with two petroleum mining companies.

REUTERS