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Australia, NZ shares follow Wall Street down, but losses are milder


[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Wednesday, following a selloff on Wall Street, as a flattening US Treasury yield curve sparked recession concerns, while doubts about Sino-US trade talks unnerved investors amid signs of slowing global growth.

Broad-based losses pushed the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index down 0.8 per cent or 44.70 points, to 5,668.84 at the close. On Tuesday, the index fell 1.0 per cent.

"There's a very, very cool wind blowing through the Australian markets today," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut. "We've followed the overnight lead from Wall Street."

Shares barely reacted to domestic growth data on Wednesday, which showed the economy decelerated by more than expected last quarter.

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Financial stocks tumbled 1.3 per cent to their lowest in a fortnight, dragging the main index.

The "Big Four" shed between 0.7 per cent to 1.2 per cent.

Consumer discretionary stocks dropped 1.2 per cent, with gaming machine maker Aristocrat Leisure fell 4.4 per cent to its lowest close since Jan. 12.

But the metals and mining index, which had fallen as much as 1.1 per cent, erased losses earlier in the session to end flat, helped by a rise in iron ore prices.

Rare earth miner Lynas Corp Ltd sank 22.4 per cent and was the top loser on the benchmark after it said Malaysia's decision to subject its local unit to two new pre-conditions for licence renewal was "disappointing".

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 1 per cent or 84.230 points lower to finish at 8,781.53

Billing services provider Gentrack Group led losses as it declined 4 per cent, while medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was second biggest, down 3.5 per cent.

The biggest e-commerce platform Trade Me Group bucked the trend to hit a record high after receiving a NZ$2.56 billion takeover offer.

The stock rose 3.1 per cent, making it the top percentage gainer on both the New Zealand and Australian benchmark.