Australia shares end lower as global growth fears hit Asia markets
(Updates to close)
Aug 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares declined on Wednesday
as a two-day winning streak gave way to renewed worries about
the global economy, with miners and retailers dragging down the
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.9% lower at
6,483.30 after gaining about 2.2% over the past two sessions.
Financial shares led U.S. stocks lower overnight to end a
three-day rally as investors awaited comments from Federal
Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the end of the week.
"Concerns about global growth returned to haunt the markets
and Australia was doubly affected because of pressure on
industrial metals," said Michael McCarthy, chief market
strategist at CMC Markets. "Any buying that we did see tended to
be focused in domestic sectors - healthcare and utilities -
which are not exposed to the trade issues."
The heavyweight mining stocks dented the Australian
market as Chinese iron ore futures sank to their lowest in 10
weeks after mining giant BHP Group gave a downbeat
outlook for steelmaking raw material prices.
Mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto Ltd ended
2.9% and 2.5% lower, respectively, while iron ore-focused player
Fortescue Metals Group lost a tad more than 4%.
Consumer stocks were also among major decliners with the
Australia-listed shares of New Zealand dairy firm a2 Milk Co
losing more than 13%.
The parent company of the dairy firm tumbled more
than 12% on the New Zealand bourse as it reported
lower-than-expected annual profit on higher costs, which ate
into gains from robust Chinese sales.
Financials lost about 0.6% with all the "Big Four" lenders
Stockland Corp finished about 7% lower after the
residential developer posted an annual net profit decline of
nearly 70% and warned about a softer performance for the 2020
Bucking the decline, shares of Australia's biggest casino
operator Crown Resorts Ltd gained 1.3% as investors
hoped the company's domestic revenue would act as a buffer
against volatile package holiday spending.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index also snapped a two-day winning run to close about
1% lower at 10,709.32.
However, home builder Fletcher Building Ltd
finished 3.3% higher after it posted an annual net profit,
swinging from a year-earlier loss, boosted by increased sales
and higher demand for its building products.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru)
© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.