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Australia shares slip on weak commodities, bargain hunting limits losses

* Shares (Frankfurt: DI6.F – news) down for second day

* Materials sector leads losses (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Charlotte Greenfield and Naomi Tajitsu

SYDNEY/WELLING TON, July 23 (Reuters) – Australian shares edged down 0.13 percent on Thursday as falling commodity prices dragged on the mining sector, but losses were limited by investors picking up bargains in the wake of the first drop in six days on Wednesday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 7.069 points to 5607.500 by 0134 GMT. The benchmark dipped 1.61 percent on Wednesday.

“It’s surprising because we got whacked yesterday, but we’re actually down again because commodities got hit hard,” said Bill Keenan, general manager of equities at Lonsec.

Brent crude prices lost 1.6 percent on Wednesday after data showed U.S. crude inventories rose last week, while spot gold slid to a five-year low on a bounce by the US dollar.

The materials sector suffered losses with Fortescue Metals losing 3.7 percent, BHP Billiton Ltd down 2.4 percent and Rio Tinto Ltd down 1.9 percent.

However Evolution Mining bucked the trend, soaring as much as 7 percent after Deutsche Bank (Xetra: 514000 – news) raised its rating to buy from hold.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining also rose as much as 2.9 percent after announcing an increased gold production for the quarter ending June.

The financial sector was also down slightly with ANZ dropping 0.8 percent and Westpac down 0.09 percent.

Shares of Macquarie Group Ltd rose as much as 2.1 percent after the company said its net profit for the year ending March 2016 will top the $ 1.6 billion recorded in the previous year.

For more individual stocks activity click on

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX50 index slipped 13.1 points or 0.2 percent to 5,914.68, easing from a life-time intraday high hit on Thursday as the domestic stocks tracked overseas markets down, knocking the telecommunications and materials sectors.

Spark fell around 1.7 percent to NZ$ 2.910, retreating from a three-month high of NZ$ 2.985 after Morningstar lowered its rating on the telecom retailer to “hold” from “accumulate”.

Telecom network operator Chorus fell 1.4 percent, tracking losses in Spark, while Fletcher Building (NZSE: FBU.NZ – news) fell 1.0 percent.

Bucking the selling was Xero (Frankfurt: 0XE.F – news) , which rose more than 2 percent to a one-month high of NZ$ 18.90 after the fast-growing, cloud-based software developer on Wednesday said it expected global revenues to double to NZ$ 200 million in the year to March 2016.

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