You are here

Australian shares fall on financials, staples; NZ slips


[BENGALURU] Australia shares ended lower on Wednesday as investors switched from defensive sectors to resource plays on strength in commodities after Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on Tuesday of further opening the China's economy and lowering tariffs.

Commodity prices were buoyed by Mr Xi's comments, while the export-sensitive Australian dollar firmed on Tuesday, especially against safe-haven currencies such as the yen.

"Today you see money likely flowing towards the resource stocks, I think it is a rotation," said James McGlew, executive director for corporate stockbroking at Perth-based Argonaut.

Consumer staples, telcos and property trusts are traditionally seen as defensive parts of the market, he said.

Market voices on:

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.5 per cent, or 28.3 points, to 5,828.7. It rose 0.8 per cent on Tuesday.

The financial index contributed most to the benchmark's weakness, ending 1 per cent lower.

Australia's "Big Four" banks were the four biggest drags on the main index. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp weighed the most, down 1 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively.

Australia's competition regulator said it plans to review the market power of the Big Four amid concerns that lending caps have cut competition and high barriers to entry have stifled rivals.

Resources stocks gained, with the Australian mining index rising 1 per cent; posting a fourth straight session of gains.

But miner South32 Ltd dropped 2.3 per cent after it said its Cerro Matoso operation accepted notification of the Constitutional Court of Colombia's order to pay damages to local communities, but would appeal.

Mining major Rio Tinto rose 1.3 per cent while rival BHP tacked on 1.9 per cent.

The most-traded September iron ore futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 0.8 per cent.

Energy stocks also gained with the sector index rising 1 per cent to its highest close in more than two months. Services provider WorleyParsons Ltd closed up 4.9 per cent.

In New Zealand the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.2 per cent, or 16.05 points, to 8,453.72, hurt by weaker consumer staples and materials.

Builder and materials supplier Fletcher Building Ltd lost 1.8 per cent while a2 Milk Company Ltd fell 1.3 per cent.