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Australia: Shares dip on resource weakness, Qantas slammed


[MELBOURNE] Australian shares slipped on Monday, hurt by a profit warning from Qantas plus sliding mining and energy stocks after talks by oil exporters on freezing output collapsed.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up to touch a fresh record of 6,855.57.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 10.09 points to 5,147.40 by 0254 GMT, erasing some of Friday's gains.

Qantas was the biggest loser in the index, falling as much as 14 per cent to a five-month low after warning that travel demand had softened and reporting that domestic and international yields declined in March.

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Energy stocks were the main losers behind Qantas, with Beach Energy, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search down between 4 and 7 per cent.

Among miners, South32 fell the most, losing 3.6 per cent. Top miner BHP Billiton, which also produces oil and gas, fell 3 per cent, while Whitehaven Coal and Oz Minerals both fell 2.3 per cent.

Real estate agency McGrath Ltd, which got listed in December, lost one-third of its value after cutting its profit forecast due to "an unforeseen low volume of listings and sales in the first half of April", which it expected to persist.

On the positive side, toll road operator Transurban Group jumped as much as 2.6 per cent to a record A$11.58 after reporting a 15 per cent jump in proportional toll revenue in the March quarter.

In New Zealand, low interest rates have been pushing investors towards stocks to seek higher returns than bank deposits offer, causing the benchmark index to regularly reach records.

Evolve Education rose 1.98 per cent after the education company announced the acquisition of six early childhood centres.

Fuel distributor Z Energy gained 1.93 per cent on lower oil prices and after announcing quarterly fuel volumes were higher than a year ago.

Fletcher Building fell 1.72 per cent, while health software company Orion Health Group fell 0.72 per cent.