Australian shares ran out of puff on Wednesday, ending a 6-day winning streak, with investors content to take profits on recent major moves.
The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 1 percent or 59.9 points to 5,646.8, pulling away from a six-week peak touched on Tuesday. The benchmark is up 3.5 percent so far this month.
Losses were broad-based with information technology and healthcare sectors among the hardest-hit.
“It’s around a healthy profit-taking,” said Ben Le Brun, an analyst at OptionsXpress, adding the market was cautious ahead of the corporate earnings season starting next month.
Natural resource stocks came under pressure with BHP Billiton off 0.8 percent after it flagged a further hit to its full-year profit of up to $650 million.
Rio Tinto also shed 0.8 percent and Iluka Resources nearly 2 percent, but Fortescue Metals showed a 2 percent gain.
Financial stocks came under pressure with Macquarie Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia down around 1.4 percent each. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank were also in the red.
Yet, gold miners managed to rally 1.7 percent after the price of the metal showed signs of stabilisation following a recent steep decline.
Evolution Mining jumped nearly 10 percent, having touched a two-month through in the last session, while Regis Resources bounced 2.7 percent. The energy sector was also affected with Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos under pressure.
New Zealand’s benchmark NZX50 index rose 31.7 points or 0.53 percent to a four-month high intraday high of 5,911.18 in early trade, lifted by broad gains in blue chips – notably in the utilities, materials and healthcare sectors.
The index approached a lifetime intraday high of 5,927.10 touched in March, as shares were also boosted ahead of a widely expected cut in domestic interest rates on Thursday.
Meridian Energy rose 2.8 percent to a two-week high, climbing 1.9 percent to NZ$2.22, while Contact Energy rose 2.2 percent amid ongoing speculation that Australia’s Origin Energy is planning to unload its 53 percent stake in the energy retailer.
Summerset jumped around 3.5 percent to a lifetime high of NZ$4.15 after the fast-growing retirement village operator said it had acquired land in Auckland to build a new retirement development.
A2 Milk Company jumped 5.1 percent to a 14-month high of NZ$0.820 on speculation that the niche milk processor may be considering better takeover offers than the one it rejected on Monday.