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Thanksgiving tempers Australia's bull run, NZ hits 2-week high
[SYDNEY] Australian shares inched lower on Thursday, as gains in financials were offset by declines in the resources sector, although the Dow and the S&P 500 closed at record highs on Wednesday ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday.
Volume on Wall Street, however, was lighter than usual, with many market participants heading out early ahead of Thursday's holiday.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 10.7 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 5,473.7 by 0050 GMT. "The key thematic that has been running in the market has been the US We are pretty much going to wait to see what happens there. And you have got the Italian referendum and the Austrian presidential election the following weekend," said Mathan Somasundaram, a quantitative strategist with Baillieu Holst.
The bond market saw further sell-offs with two-year US Treasury note yields vaulting to a 6-1/2 year high of 1.151 per cent, while benchmark 10-year notes hit 2.417 per cent, the highest since July 2015.
Financials accounted for most of the ASX's gains. Westpac Banking Corp extended gains into a fifth session and is on track for its longest rising streak since July.
"If you look at the multiples, the banks are still relatively cheap, the risk is lower there, with resources, the big miners, trading at decent multiples," Mr Somasundaram added.
Australian packaging company Amcor Ltd was among the top gainers, jumping 3.1 per cent.
At the other end, mining index was back in the red after three sessions of gains, with miners Rio Tinto and South32 Ltd sliding more than 1 per cent.
Gold stocks tumbled after the yellow metal fell more than 2 per cent to a 9-1/2-month low on Wednesday as a buoyant dollar extended its rally to the highest since 2003. Newcrest Mining slumped as much as 3.8 per cent to a five-month low while Evolution Mining fell 4.9 per cent.
The energy index was down 0.9 per cent after oil prices dipped slightly on Wednesday amid investor doubts that Opec will agree to a production cut large enough to make a significant dent in the global glut of crude.
Oil majors Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd slipped 1.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.
Volumes were largely tepid, with 187.9 million shares changing hands, around one-third of the 30-day average of 638.9 million shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the Australian Stock Exchange by a 1.2-to-1 ratio.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index advanced 0.5 per cent or 31.79 points to hit a two-week high of 6,883.24.
Healthcare, industrials and telecom stocks accounted for more than half the gains.
Chorus and Infratil were among biggest gainers, rising 3.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.