1. Australia shares fall as financials retreat; New Zealand down

Australia shares fall as financials retreat; New Zealand down

Australian shares fell on Monday, tracking Wall Street's decline last week, with financials pulling back from their sharp post-U.S. election gains as investors awaited clarity on President-elect Donald Trump's policies.

By: | Published: November 21, 2016 9:07 AM
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Commonwealth Bank of Australia were among the biggest drags on the main index. (Reuters) Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Commonwealth Bank of Australia were among the biggest drags on the main index. (Reuters)

Australian shares fell on Monday, tracking Wall Street’s decline last week, with financials pulling back from their sharp post-U.S. election gains as investors awaited clarity on President-elect Donald Trump’s policies.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 percent, or 9.9 points, to 5,349.5 at 0134 GMT.

“What is driving (Australian market) is a much more benign view of what a Trump presidency might mean for the U.S. economy,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Financial stocks fell as much as 0.6 percent, after having risen 5.1 percent since Nov. 8 to last Friday’s close.

In the United States, the financial sector had risen 10.8 percent since the presidential election, boosted by prospects of higher interest rates and lighter regulation if Trump followed through with his electoral promises.

“Another factor is a little bit of nervousness that share markets, particularly in the U.S. and around the globe, have run ahead of what is still an uncertain situation around U.S. policy,” McCarthy added.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Commonwealth Bank of Australia were among the biggest drags on the main index.

Healthcare stocks also dragged on the index, falling more than 1 percent, with biotherapeutics giant CSL Ltd weighing most on the sector.

Materials extended falls for a sixth session as iron ore and copper prices fell.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd lost close to 2 percent.

Rio Tinto Ltd was additionally affected by the ongoing probe relating to payments made to a consultant for rights to mine an iron ore deposit in Guinea.

Bucking the trend, the energy sector jumped as oil prices rose on expectations of OPEC-led output cut. Santos Ltd rose more than 4 percent, while Woodside Petroleum Ltd gained as much as 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, building materials supplier Boral Ltd agreed to buy U.S. firm Headwaters Incorporated for around $2.6 billion. Boral’s shares are on a trading halt.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent to 6,846.01 at 0134 GMT, hurt by financials and industrials, while healthcare stocks continued to gain.

The New Zealand-listed shares of ANZ Bank fell to their lowest in a week, while NZ-listed shares of Westpac Banking Corp dropped 0.7 percent.

Fletcher Building Ltd was the biggest drag on the main index and continued its fall since last Thursday when the government said it would investigate why newer buildings had been unable to withstand the recent quake.

Healthcare companies Ryman Healthcare Ltd and Summerset Group Holdings Ltd were among the top gainers on the main index.

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