Australia shares soften as gold stocks weigh; NZ up
* Financials gain for 2nd consecutive session
* Gold sub-index posts biggest fall in 3 weeks
* Synlait Milk, a2 Milk among top gainers on NZ benchmark
By Aby Jose Koilparambil
April 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares held a soft tone in
early trade on Monday, with losses in gold stocks, due to a
resurgence in risk appetite and a strong Wall Street, countering
gains in financials.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was almost flat at 6,247.40 by
0043 GMT. The benchmark had soared 0.9 percent on Friday,
posting its biggest weekly gain in seven.
The market also tread water as investors remained cautious
ahead of a shortened trading week where major miners and oil
producers are due to report quarterly production figures.
U.S. stocks closed near record highs on Friday after the
largest U.S. bank JP Morgan Chase & Co reported strong
quarterly numbers that blew past analysts' estimates, allaying
fears for the time being of a decline in corporate earnings this
The Australian market had outperformed its Asian peers on
Friday, powered by gains in financial stocks after reports that
country's biggest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia
were cutting jobs to boost profitability.
Financials, the largest sector in the benchmark,
motored ahead on Monday as well, with all the 'Big Four' banks
appreciating in the range between 0.5 percent and 1 percent.
However, the jump in risk appetite dented gold, considered a
safe-haven asset, with producers of the precious metal slumping.
The ASX gold sub-index slid as much as 2.9 percent
posting it biggest intraday fall since March 22, with top firms
including Newcrest Mining Ltd and Evolution Mining
shedding about 3 percent each.
"A stupefying amount of ink has been spilt on gold markets
of late, and while it was encouraging to see gold break above
$1,300, the market is prone to a case of jitters above that
psychological threshold especially with the global growth
recovery and improving risk sentiment supporting U.S. equity
markets," said Stephen Innes, managing partner and head of
trading at SPI Asset Management, in a note.
In spite of the slide in gold stocks, the metals and mining
index was little changed as the country's mining
behemoths BHP Group and Rio Tinto advanced on
higher iron ore and copper prices.
Index heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto gained 0.4
percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, while Fortescue Metals
Group, a firm which has largely benefitted from recent
global iron ore supply concerns, advanced 1.5 percent.
Iron ore futures in China ended higher on Friday as spot
prices hovered near five-year highs amid increased demand from
Chinese steelmakers and declining supplies from producers
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index advanced 0.4 percent to 9,809.35 and is poised to
post its third successive session of gains.
Dairy firms a2 Milk Co Ltd and Synlait Milk Ltd
were among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark,
putting on 2 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru
Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
© 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.