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Australia: Shares fall 0.7% on losses in banks, healthcare

Australian shares bucked a poor performance by Wall Street to edge 0.6 per cent higher on Thursday, aided by a hunt for dividend yield and more merger action.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell 0.7 per cent on Tuesday, largely led by losses in banks, after China devalued its currency following disappointing economic data.

Healthcare stocks also fell after weaker-than-expected earnings guidance from Cochlear Ltd.

China's central bank sharply weakened the yuan on Tuesday, saying it had changed the way it calculated the currency's daily midpoint against the dollar.

China is Australia's No.1 trading partner.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell about 36 points to 5,473.2 points at the close of trade. The benchmark gained 0.6 per cent on Monday.

Cochlear, the world's top hearing implants maker, missed expectations to post a 56 per cent gain in annual profit, cut its full-year dividend by 25 per cent and forecast slower-than-expected profit growth in 2015/16, sending jitters through investors in the health sector.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.73 per cent or 42.67 points to finish the session at 5,822.35.