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Australia: Shares backtrack as CBA paints bleak picture, NZ pauses

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares snapped a four-day winning streak and fell on Wednesday as a record profit from Commonwealth Bank of Australia was overshadowed by its cautious economic outlook, while New Zealand stocks also fell.

CBA, the nation's No 2 lender, posted its seventh straight record annual profit but left its final dividend unchanged in a profit announcement, which also showed a significant rise in loan impairments.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 23.1 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 5,529.4 by 0249 GMT. The benchmark is up 4 per cent so far this year.

"The composition of the result was a little bit disappointing," said IG Markets institutional dealer Chris Weston.

Market voices on:

"The investment case (in bank stocks) has always been show us a stable dividend structure and none of that's really changed, but there's very little to inspire in the result."

CBA led the financials lower, down 0.9 per cent, while Westpac Banking Corp declined 0.8 per cent and National Australia Bank fell 0.3 per cent. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.9 per cent.

Resources stocks also fell after the prices of base metals and oil lost ground overnight. BHP Billiton was down 1 per cent, while spin-off South32 declined 2.2 per cent. BHP rival Rio Tinto was off by 0.9 per cent, while iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group dropped 2.1 per cent.

Energy supplier AGL led energy stocks lower, down 4 per cent after posting a net loss, while Origin Energy dipped 1.4 per cent and Santos was down 1.8 per cent.

Elsewhere, newspaper publisher Fairfax Media fell 4 per cent after also posting a yearly loss, as foreshadowed by the company.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX50 index lost 10.92 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7,352.24 as the index took a pause after four consecutive sessions of gains.

Casino operator Sky City led losses, falling 4.6 per cent, poised for its daily biggest per centage loss in 8 years. The company reported full-year profit and revenue growth which fell short of investor expectations.

"We might get this a bit in the reporting season - where expectations have just got well ahead of how these companies are performing," said Grant Williamson, director at broker Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Power companies also struggled with electricity company Trustpower down fell 1.5 per cent and energy company Mercury losing 0.9 per cent. Fletcher Building was down 0.7 per cent and accounting tech company Xero lost 0.4 per cent.