Australia: Shares ease in cautious trade

[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell for a second day on Wednesday, mirroring declines in Asia due to the heightened geopolitical tensions as Russia warned of"serious consequences" after one of its warplanes was shot down by Turkey near the Syrian border.

On the positive side, an overnight rally in commodity prices helped underpin the mining and energy sectors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index shed 0.52 per cent, or 27.29 points, to 5,199.10 by 0240 GMT, following a 0.95 per cent drop on Tuesday.

Banks, real estate investment trusts (REITS), retailers and telecommunication services were all in the red. Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank both slipped about 0.5 per cent.

Mining and energy shares were mostly firmer thanks to a rally in the prices of oil and base metals.

Woodside Petroleum climbed 0.6 per cent, while Santos put on 0.7 per cent. BHP Billiton added 0.3 per cent. "Energy stocks have obviously benefited from some of these geopolitical tensions, which have put some of the risk premium back into the oil price," said Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG. "They have come down a little bit in Asian trade, but nonetheless we did see a pretty strong performance in the energy sector over in the S&P 500 overnight, so that's obviously led into Asia and certainly onto the ASX." For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.35 per cent, or 21.42 points, to 6,079.85.

Among the biggest losers, A2 Milk shed 8.2 per cent, likely due to some profit taking after a strong recent run.

In contrast, Metro Performance Glass added 2.6 per cent, still benefiting from its half-year result earlier this week, which was in line with guidance.


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