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Australia: Shares fall on weak manufacturing survey, fading US stimulus hope
[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell on Friday, weighed down by miners, as weak manufacturing survey data and waning hopes for a pre-election US coronavirus relief package knocked investor sentiment.
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.3 per cent, or 19.3 points, to 6,154 by 0112 GMT, after a 0.3 per cent drop in the previous session.
A preliminary IHS Markit survey showed Australian manufacturing activity expanded in October at a weaker pace than last month and also missed estimates, as coronavirus-driven lockdowns in parts of the country continued to hamper economy recovery.
With the US presidential election just around the corner, global equity markets have been volatile as US lawmakers struggle to reach agreement on a coronavirus aid package.
Hopes of a deal were further dimmed when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had not spoken on Thursday.
In Australia, the metals and mining index, the biggest constituent of the benchmark, slid 1 per cent. Top iron ore miners Rio Tinto and BHP Group lost up to 1.4 per cent each.
An overnight slump in bullion prices saw the gold sub-index fall 2.5 per cent.
Resolute Mining Ltd fell the most, sliding 4 per cent after Citi trimmed its price target for the stock. Red 5 Ltd was down 2.5 per cent.
Tech stocks slipped 0.7 per cent, with software maker WiseTech Global shedding 2.3 per cent.
Mineral sands producer Iluka Resources plunged 46 per cent as the stock traded on a demerger-basis after spun-off unit Deterra Royalties started trading on the stock exchange.
Among gainers, BlueScope Steel surged 12 per cent in its biggest intraday percentage gain in four years on strong second-half outlook.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent to 12,385.2, with IT services provider Serko and Vista Group International down about 2 per cent each.