Australia shares seen lower as Fed minutes unsettle global markets
SYDNEY Aug 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares are braced for a weak opening on Thursday as borrowing costs rose globally and Wall Street dropped after minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last meeting failed to allay concerns of an imminent reduction of its massive stimulus.
* Local share price index futures fell 0.8 percent, a 62-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close. The benchmark closed 0.4 percent higher on Wednesday.
* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.3 percent in early trade.
* U.S. stocks ended lower in choppy trade on Wednesday after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's July meeting offered few clues on the timing of a reduction in its bond-buying program.
* The U.S. dollar surged and borrowing costs rose globally, providing negative cues for emerging markets that have come to rely on cheap dollars to underpin domestic demand and fund current account shortfalls.
* Copper fell as the dollar strengthened and due to uncertainty across financial markets about the timing of the U.S. retreat from monetary stimulus and the strength of a recovery in top metals consumer China. Gold fell in choppy trade.
* Brambles Ltd reported a full year profit after tax of $639.9 million versus $574.9 million a year ago.
* Echo Entertainment Group Ltd said its full year revenue from ordinary activities rose 7.6 percent to $1.74 billion.
* Insurance Australia Group posted a full year net profit of $776 million compared with $207 million a year ago.
* Origin Energy reported a full year underlying profit of $760 million, a fall from $893 million reported the previous year.
* Supermarket giant Woolworths Ltd has acquired New Zealand based direct retailer Ezibuy Holdings Ltd valued at NZ$350 million.
* Other companies due to report later in the day include Tatts Group Ltd, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, Fairfax Media Ltd and Pacific Brands Ltd.
----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2302 GMT ------------
INSTRUMENT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1642.8 -0.58% -9.550 USD/JPY 97.76 0.1% 0.100 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.8917 -- 0.000 SPOT GOLD 1356.39 -0.68% -9.350 US CRUDE 103.58 -0.26% -0.270 DOW JONES 14897.55 -0.70% -105.44 ASIA ADRS 137.08 -1.75% -2.44 -------------------------------------------------------------
* Wall St falls after Fed minutes yield few clues * Oil slips, WTI leads decline as crude flow back to Cushing * Gold prices down as Fed minutes show few tapering clues * Copper falls on jitters before Fed minutes, China data
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(Australia/New Zealand bureaux; +61 2 9373 1800/+64 4 471 4234)
($1 = 1.1087 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)