Australia shares slip, cyclone hurts major miners

Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:41pm EST

(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
    SYDNEY, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares were down 0.4
percent by Friday afternoon, with major miners losing ground as
a cyclone affected their operations, overshadowing gains in
other sectors after global markets had rallied on
better-than-expected Chinese trade data.
    BHP Billiton Ltd lost 1.9 percent after suspending
offshore oilfields and rival iron ore miner Rio Tinto Ltd
 also dropped 1.9 percent after shutting down key iron
ore export terminals as a cyclone intensified off Australia's
northwest coast. 
    The S&P/ASX 200 index was 16.8 points lower at
4,706.2 at 0142 GMT. It rose 0.3 percent on Thursday to 4,723.0.
    Banks were mostly higher, with National Australia Bank
 leading gains, up 0.4 percent. The Commonwealth Bank of
Australia bucked the trend, slipping 0.1 percent. 
    The European Central Bank said on Thursday the euro zone
economy will recover later in 2013 and there were already some
signs of stabilisation after it held interest rates at a record
low. 
    "Local news this week has been nothing short of dismal,"
said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG Markets.
    "Building approvals came in under expectations, retail sales
actually contracted in the month of November and Australia's
term of trade deficit rose further due to the high Aussie
dollar...As it's the end of the week, investors will be cautious
today," Lucas said.
   Defensives were also firmer, with Australia's top
telecommunications provider Telstra Ltd rising 0.5
percent to A$4.50, its highest level since August 2008. Gas
provider AGL Energy was up 0.5 percent.
    Shares in gold were strong, with Newcrest Mining up
0.4 percent.
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.2
percent to 4,126.9.

    STOCKS ON THE MOVE
    * Base Resources rocketed 38 percent to $A0.345
after it received formal notification that its Kwale mineral
sands project in Kenya would be excluded from the African
nation's 35 percent local equity participation requirement.
    (0141 GMT)
    
    * Online job-seeking website Seek Ltd jumped 2.9
percent to $A7.49 after it said it would increase its ownership
in Chinese job-seeking website Zhaopin, potentially to 79
percent. 
    (0142 GMT)
    

 (Reporting By Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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