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Australia: Shares fall on profit taking


[SYDNEY] Australian shares ran out of puff on Wednesday, ending a 6-day winning streak, with investors content to take profits on recent major moves.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 1 percent or 59.9 points to 5,646.8, pulling away from a six-week peak touched on Tuesday. The benchmark is up 3.5 per cent so far this month.

Losses were broad-based with information technology and healthcare sectors among the hardest-hit. "It's around a healthy profit-taking," said Ben Le Brun, an analyst at OptionsXpress, adding the market was cautious ahead of the corporate earnings season starting next month.

Natural resource stocks came under pressure with BHP Billiton off 0.8 per cent after it flagged a further hit to its full-year profit of up to US$650 million.

Rio Tinto also shed 0.8 per cent and Iluka Resources nearly 2 per cent, but Fortescue Metals showed a 2 per cent gain.

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Financial stocks came under pressure with Macquarie Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia down around 1.4 per cent each. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank were also in the red.

Yet, gold miners managed to rally 1.7 per cent after the price of the metal showed signs of stabilisation following a recent steep decline.

Evolution Mining jumped nearly 10 per cent, having touched a two-month through in the last session, while Regis Resources bounced 2.7 per cent. The energy sector was also affected with Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos under pressure.


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