Australian shares fell to their lowest in two weeks, and logged their steepest weekly fall since early February, as a dip in oil and metal prices brought energy and material stocks lower. The S&P/ASX 200 index was 39.77 points, or 0.7 percent, lower at 5,836.6 at the close of trade, leading to a 1.5 percent loss for the week. Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum and Oilsearch lost 2.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, as oil prices fell on supply glut concerns.
Miner BHP Billiton was down 2.7 percent, while gold stocks Newcrest Mining and St. Barbara fell 3.2 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, as iron ore sank on demand worries and on over night losses in copper and gold. The telecom sector was the only gainer on the index as Telstra surged 4 percent after the Australian competition watchdog ruled carriers would not be forced to let rivals use their infrastructure.
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For the coming session, investors will be looking out for the U.S. jobs data scheduled for later in the day as well as outcome of the final round of French elections over the weekend. Centrist Emmanuel Macron is widely expected to win the elections.
Regionally, investors will be positioning ahead of the Australian budget due May 9, as well as half-year results of Westpac Banking and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, after Australia and New Zealand Bank and National Australia Bank reported this week. New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index reversed trend from earlier in the session to end 0.2 percent, or 12.92 points, lower at 7,365.5. Over the week, the index lost 0.2 percent.
Spark New Zealand and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare were the biggest drag on the index, down 1.1 percent and 0.5 percent respectively, while Comvita was the worst performer losing 6.5 percent.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)