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Australia: Shares subdued, weekly gains expected


[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell on Friday, weighed by further losses in the resources sector, though they were still on track to post weekly gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.8 per cent to 5324.9 by 01:46 GMT, following three sessions of gains, but was still up around 0.3 per cent this week. "There has been a lot of volatility which has kept resource stocks under pressure," said Kara Ordway, a market maker and trader at City Index, seeing some consolidation ahead of US non-farm payroll data due later on Friday.

Investors gave mining shares a wide berth amid worries about global demand for commodities such as iron ore. Rio Tinto dropped 2.6 per cent, followed by BHP Billiton 1.3 per cent. Fortescue Metals was the hardest-hit, slumping more than 4 percent.

Shares in Mount Gibson Iron Ltd dived 46 per cent to A$0.22 after saying it will need to assess the outlook for iron ore prices before deciding whether to reopen some operations.

In contrast, industrial stocks rose 1 per cent, with mining services firm Bradken Ltd up 27 per cent to A$4.20 after it received a A$872 million (US$731 million) takeover approach.