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Australia shares hit 1-month low as industrials, healthcare weigh


[BENGALURU] Australian shares gave up early gains on Monday, falling to a one-month low, as industrial and healthcare stocks pushed the index down and Brambles Ltd disappointed by slashing its annual profit forecast.

In its first trading session since US President Donald Trump's inauguration, the S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.4 per cent or 22.05 points to 5627.2 by 01:23 GMT.

The industrial sector was the worst performer as supply-chain logistics company Brambles dived to its lowest in more than 11 months. The company said its annual constant-currency sales revenue and underlying profit growth would be below its current guidance range.

"We had some positive leads, but gains have quickly evaporated," said Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report.

"I think local traders will now be more focused on the rest of the US earnings season and next month's Australian earnings. The Trump presidency will sort of recede into the background," he added.

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Healthcare stocks moved into the red with shares of CSL Ltd posting their biggest percentage loss in more than a week. Mr Conway said traders were booking some profit from CSL after it rose quite significantly in the last two sessions.

Materials also posted losses, tracking weak metal prices. BlueScope Steel Ltd shed 1.7 per cent and nickel miner Western Areas Ltd dropped 4.2 per cent.

Energy stocks offered some support as prices edged up after energy ministers of Opec and non-Opec countries applauded a strong start to output cuts.

Oil majors Caltex Australia Ltd and Woodside Petroleum Ltd added 0.8 per cent and 0.6 per cent each.

The gold index rose as much as 1.8 per cent after a weaker US dollar drove up gold prices on Friday.

Financials, the biggest index component, lost their initial momentum with the "Big Four" banks paring some of their early gains.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index saw lacklustre trade, just three points up at 7051.49 by 01:32 GMT.

Comvita Ltd was the top loser on the benchmark, slipping 18.3 per cent by 01:34 GMT, after it lowered its profit guidance.


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