Australian shares post biggest weekly loss in a yr; wary ahead of US jobs

Fri Jun 7, 2013 3:09am EDT

(Adds market performance details, analyst comments)
    * S&P/ASX 200 index down 43.5 points to near 5-mth low of
4,737.7
    * Market cautious ahead of U.S. jobs report as Fed stimulus
concerns persist
    * Banks and miners suffer losses
    * Newcrest plunges to 8-yr low on writedown

    SYDNEY, June 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell 0.9
percent on Friday and posted their biggest weekly loss in a
year, as jitters ahead of a key U.S. jobs report dragged the
index to a near five-month low. 
    Investors were inclined to reduce exposure before the
release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls data later in the day,
which could provide clues about the future of the Federal
Reserve's stimulus measures, analysts said. 
    Markets are also eyeing a slew of Chinese economic data for
May including trade, inflation, urban investment, industrial
output and retail sales over the weekend. 
    Investors have been agonizing over the Fed's bond-buying
programme since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested two weeks
ago that the massive stimulus could be wound back this year if
the economy improves further.
    The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 43.5 points to 4,737.7,
the lowest since Jan. 16. The index ended the week down 3.8
percent, its biggest weekly loss since May 2012. 
    Australian stocks have been hit recently by turbulence in
Japanese equities, Fed stimulus jitters, and concerns over
slowing demand from top resources consumer China. 
    Major banks all dropped, with no. 1 lender Commonwealth Bank
of Australia losing 1.7 percent. Westpac Banking Corp
 and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group 
retreated from earlier gains and fell 0.4 percent and 0.6
percent, respectively.
    Still, the banks could rebound on bargain-hunting, said
Macquarie Private Wealth division director Martin Lakos.
    "The banks have come off a long way now. Investors are
holding a significant high level of cash, they will continue to
chase high returns," Lakos said.
    Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd tumbled 2.0 percent,
while Rio Tinto Ltd fell 1.8 percent.
    Miners have been under pressure due to sluggish demand from
China. Shanghai steel futures sagged to a nine-month low on
Friday and Chinese mills are limiting their stockpiles of raw
material iron ore on expectations that prices may drop
further. 
    Newcrest Mining Ltd, the world's No. 3 gold miner,
fell 7.6 percent to an eight-year low, after the company said it
would write down its asset values by up to $6 billion in
response to the worst slide in gold prices in 30 years.
 
    Other gold names also took a beating. Medusa Mining Ltd
 dived 10.6 percent, while Regis Resources Ltd 
dropped 2.5 percent. 
    On the positive ledger, Australia's biggest phone company
Telstra Corp Ltd gained 0.7 percent. 
    Some property stocks also bucked the broad market trend.
Australia's second-biggest property group Stockland Corp Ltd
 rose 0.6 percent, and Mirvac Group added 1.2
percent. 
    "There are a few green lights flashing for the real estate
and property sector at the moment," said Longsec economist
Michael Heffernan in Melbourne, citing the expectation of
further rate cuts. 
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.3
percent to 4,439.9. 
  




 (Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang and Michael Sin; Editing by
Shri Navaratnam)
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