Australia shares retreat on global growth anxiety; NZ up
* Financials lead fall in Australia
* Gold stocks up on safe-haven buying
* Pilbara soars after announcing commercial production at
By Aditya Soni
March 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares stepped back on
Thursday as signs of a broadening slowdown in the global economy
jolted riskier assets around the world.
Benchmark U.S. Treasury bond yields fell again on Wednesday,
keeping the yield curve inverted and leaving investors worried
about the outlook for the world's largest economy. The growth
anxiety dented Wall Street stocks.
James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking
at Argonaut, said global uncertainties coupled with weak growth
data at home and looming elections were prompting investors to
minimize their risk.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was off 0.2 percent or 13.90
points to 6,122.10 by 0049 GMT.
The benchmark had tacked on 0.1 percent on Wednesday,
reversing from earlier losses after the Reserve Bank of New
Zealand's shift to a dovish stance raised expectations of a rate
cut by Australia's central bank.
McGlew said there is a high chance of a rate cut by Reserve
Bank of Australia in the next six months.
Financials stocks, which account for nearly half of the
benchmark, slipped 0.3 percent and dominated the losses.
The country's "Big Four" banks lost between 0.3 percent to
The CEOs of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and
National Australia Bank on Wednesday said a crackdown on
consumer credit checks was affecting their ability to write new
home loans even though approval rates were unchanged, a sign the
tougher regulatory environment is squeezing the economy.
Energy stocks, hit by lower oil prices and global
demand concerns, slid as much as 0.6 percent to their lowest
since Feb. 12.
Elsewhere, gold stocks regained their sheen on safe-haven
buying as investors sought conservative assets to shelter from
the rising global risks.
Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd rallied 3.3 percent to
a five-week peak, while Dacian Gold Ltd climbed 2.7
Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals Ltd saw its best day
in over three weeks as it soared 4.3 percent and was the top
performer after it announced commercial production at its
Pilgangoora project in Australia.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
retreated from a record high touched earlier in the session but
traded 0.1 percent or 7.94 points higher at 9,706.83.
The benchmark soared on Wednesday after the country's
central bank stunned investors by raising the possibility of a
rate cut as its next move.
Air New Zealand Ltd rose as much as 3.5 percent to
an over two-week high after it said it was launching a two-year
cost reduction plan and deferred aircraft capital expenditures
of about NZ$750 mln ($509.78 mln) as part of a business review.
(Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru: Additional reporting by
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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