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Australia: Shares listless as major catalysts missing, New Zealand inches down

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Australian shares were subdued on Thursday, as a dearth of major economic catalysts held most investors back from making big moves.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares were subdued on Thursday, as a dearth of major economic catalysts held most investors back from making big moves.

At 0233 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.1 per cent, or 6.6 points, to 6,494. It climbed 0.5 per cent on Wednesday.

"This is a market which is in a hiatus, really looking for a catalyst to move either up or down ... we're still very much at the mercy of tweets and data," said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone.

World markets have long been sensitive to US-China trade war updates from US President Donald Trump's Twitter platform, but Weston said markets have moved on from placing too much stock in tweets such as "talks are progressing".

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"We're not getting anyplace, markets realise that," he said.

The Trump administration on Wednesday made official its extra 5 per cent tariff on US$300 billion in Chinese imports and set collection dates of Sept 1 and Dec 15.

China is Australia's biggest trade partner. The largest Australian export to China is natural resources.

Australian lithium miners Altura Mining, Orocobre and Galaxy Resources all fell, at one point being down between 2.5 per cent and 11.8 per cent.

On Wednesday, China's biggest lithium producer Ganfeng Lithium Co reported first-half profits plunged 59 per cent as rising supply of the material used in batteries for electric cars caused a slump in prices.

Tech stocks fell after steep gains in six out of the last eight sessions. Data centre operator NEXTDC swung to an annual loss and was among top losers on the benchmark.

Shares of Australia's largest supermarket operator Woolworths fell as much as 2.2 per cent, as investors shrugged off positives from its annual results to focus on uncertainty whether there can be sustainable recovery in consumer demand.

Infant formula maker Bellamy's Australia was among top losers on the benchmark, extending falls to a second session after it reported disappointing annual results and outlook.

Mining services provider Ausdrill and investment services provider Link Administration were top gainers on the main index, after reporting stellar annual results.

Link added as much as 13 per cent to head for its best session since listing.

New Zealand's benchmark index inched down 0.1 per cent, or 10.94 points, to 10,618.51.

Vista Group International was the biggest decliner, down as much as 28.2 per cent after reporting weaker annual core earnings.

REUTERS