The Business Times

Australia shares fall on financials, materials; NZ snaps 2-week decline

Published Fri, Mar 3, 2017 · 06:20 AM
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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower on Friday, shadowing Wall Street which took a breather from a strong run, with materials and financials leading the broad-based selloff.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.8 per cent, or 46.588 points, down at 5,730.00, posting its biggest intraday percentage loss in over a month. It lost 0.2 per cent on the week.

Risk of an imminent US interest rate hike soured Wall Street's party as the reality of rising borrowing costs began to sink in. Fed Chair Janet Yellen and Vice Chair Stanley Fischer are slated to speak later in the day.

All major sectors, except telecom stocks, traded in negative territory.

Gary Burton, a market analyst at IG Markets, attributed some of the weakness to investors cashing in on Thursday's strong gains.

The benchmark index rose 1.3 per cent on Thursday.

Financials, tracked their US peers, ending 0.7 per cent lower, with the "Big Four" banks losing between 0.6 to 1.3 per cent.

Materials were dragged down by commodity prices, as gold and copper prices fell in the face of a strong US dollar.

The benchmark mining index lost as much as 2.7 per cent, its biggest intraday per centage loss in over 13 weeks.

Global miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton ended 4.1 per cent and 1.4 per cent lower respectively.

On the other end, QBE Insurance Group resisted losses by ending 1.8 per cent higher.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent, or 14.96 points, to finish the session at 7,160.87. The index added 1.5 per cent on the week, snapping two weeks of losses.

Financials were the biggest drag on the benchmack index, with all the constituents of the sector finishing lower.

Westpac Banking Corp fell 1.3 per cent, while Sky Network Television Ltd lost 2.7 per cent.


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