Australia shares drop as financials drag; NZ rises

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Published: November 30, 2018 8:04:28 AM

Australian shares edged lower on Friday as a weak lead from Wall Street prompted a broader sell-off with financials stocks leading losses.

Share market, Australia shares, Wall Street, financial stocks, stock market, trade war, market newsThe stocks have lost more than 10 percent this year on the back of a government-backed inquiry into the sector. (Reuters)

Australian shares edged lower on Friday as a weak lead from Wall Street prompted a broader sell-off with financials stocks leading losses. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.4 percent or 79.4 points to 5,679 by 0034 GMT, posting its biggest intraday percentage gain since mid-November. The benchmark rose 0.6 percent on Thursday. Also weighing heavily on the benchmark was ready-to-drink beverage maker Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd, which fell to its lowest in six-months after the company said it was expecting a one-off costs in 2018 of about A$50 mln ($36.62 mln)

The index was on course for its third straight weekly loss and set to log a more than 2 percent monthly loss, extending a steep 6.1 percent decline in October. Investor sentiment is skittish ahead of the meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit.

President Trump has given markets mixed signals over where he currently stands in Washington’s ongoing trade spat with Beijing. Financial stocks were the biggest drags on the index, down 1.6 percent, with Big Four banks losing as much as between 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent.

The stocks have lost more than 10 percent this year on the back of a government-backed inquiry into the sector. The inquiry is scheduled to hold its final hearing later in the day. The probe has wiped about A$40 billion ($29 billion) from the market value of country’s four largest banks and AMP Ltd in the nine months since it began. “The market has priced in all of that negative news but there is always a chance of surprise, so there is nervousness,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Bucking the decline were energy stocks, with the sector sub-index climbing 0.4 percent, after oil prices, which lost nearly 22 percent this month, rose as much as 2 percent on Thursday after Russia indicated a production cut.

Oil and gas explorers Beach Energy and Woodside Petroleum rose as much as 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent or 30.68 points to 8,825.56. The index was supported by gains in healthcare and utilities stocks with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp rising more than 2 percent.

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