Australia shares edge lower on week, cyclone curbs miners
(Adds details, comments) SYDNEY, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.3 percent on Friday with major miners losing ground after shutting some operations due to a cyclone, pushing the index to a narrow weekly loss after seven straight weeks of gains. BHP Billiton Ltd lost 2 percent after suspending offshore oilfields and rival iron ore miner Rio Tinto Ltd fell 1.9 percent after shutting down key iron ore export terminals as Cyclone Narelle intensified off Australia's northwest coast. The losses overshadowed gains in other sectors after global markets rallied on better-than-expected Chinese trade data. "Underperformance in the big iron ore miners has been the main theme of the day and has been weighing on the overall market's performance," said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG Markets. The S&P/ASX 200 index finished the day 13.5 points lower at 4,709.5. The index also fell 0.3 percent for the week. Banks were mixed, with National Australia Bank and Australia New Zealand Banking Corp up 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. Australia's no.1 lender, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.4 percent and Westpac Banking Corp slipped 0.1 percent. "We've had another day of healthy consolidation for the market," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. China's annual consumer inflation rate accelerated to a seven-month high of 2.5 percent in December on rising food prices, ahead of expectations and narrowing the scope for the central bank to boost the economy by easing monetary policy. "It's hard to say it's had anything but a mildly positive effect, both the CPI and PPI numbers came broadly in line -- CPI a little higher than market expectations but that's not necessarily negative, given the low level of inflation," McCarthy said. Defensives finished the day mostly stronger, with food retailers Woolworths and Wesfarmer up 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent respectively. Utility provider AGL Energy bucked the trend, slipping 0.4 percent. Gold miner Newcrest Mining rose 0.9 percent. Severe tropical storm Cyclone Narelle strengthened into a category 4 storm, shutting ports handling a fifth of the world's globally traded iron ore and cut supplies of natural gas and oil on Friday. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent to 4,131.8, a fresh 5-year closing high. (Reporting By Thuy Ong; Editing by)
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