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Australia shares pulled under by property stocks; NZ up

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended slightly lower on Tuesday, dampened by a selloff in real estate stocks and top lenders including Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.1 per cent, or 6.999 points, to 5,713.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark rose 0.5 per cent on Monday.

Real estate stocks accounted for more than half the losses on the index, with industrial property developer Goodman Group Pty Ltd falling 2.2 per cent to its lowest in more than a week, and shopping centre developer Westfield Corp dropping 2.1 per cent to post a near three-week closing low.

The selloff in real-estate stocks was probably linked to the Reserve Bank of Australia's September meeting minutes highlighting rising household debt, said Mathan Somasundaram, a market portfolio strategist with Blue Ocean Equities.

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Minutes of the meeting showed the central bank remained worried about rising household debt and a strong local dollar.

Growth in housing debt has outpaced incomes, a result that threatens economy-wide spending.

Among financial stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia retreated from a three-week high to close 0.5 per cent lower, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group stayed afloat, ending up 0.1 per cent.

TPG Telecom trimmed some gains to end 5.2 per cent higher, at a two-week closing high, after full-year net profit climbed 9 per cent to beat analysts' forecasts.

Meanwhile, investors will also be watchful of a two-day meeting beginning on Tuesday where the US Federal Reserve is expected to take another step towards policy normalisation and announce plans to begin unwinding its US$4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. The Fed is seen holding interest rates steady after raising twice this year.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched up 0.1 per cent, or 5.82 points, to finish the session at 7,764.53.

Synlait Milk led the gains, rising 5.5 per cent to a record close after its full-year net profit climbed 12 per cent.