Australia shares slip as Fed anxiety, miners hurt; Macquarie surges
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Nov 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.3 percent on Friday morning, treading cautiously into a new month as global anxiety over the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus-tapering plans checked demand for riskier assets.
Declines in miners weighed on the market, although losses were somewhat contained on buying interest in the financial sector, led by a surge in Macquarie Group shares after a solid earnings report.
Macquarie's stock rallied 3.7 percent to A$52.83, its highest trading price since February 2010, after Australia's biggest investment bank announced a 39 percent rise in its first-half profit to A$501 million ($474.42 million).
The banking sector has been a major driver of the market in recent months as they continued to report stellar earnings, with record profits announced from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank earlier this week.
NAB rose 0.6 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp, which is due to report on Monday, added 0.5 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 16.3 points at 5,409.2 by 0003 GMT. The benchmark slipped 0.1 percent on Thursday, and is on track to rise 0.4 percent for the week, a fourth consecutive week of gains.
"Investors will be wary of potential for some selling associated with the beginning of a new calendar quarter," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in a note.
"Resource stocks in particular will also be focussed on China's PMI figure due for release at midday."
Manufacturing data from China, Australia's major export market, is due later in the day. The official PMI report is due around 0100 GMT, followed by HSBC's final PMI report at 0145 GMT.
Miners were a drag on the main index, hit by a fall in copper prices overnight on concerns about growing supply and weak demand. BHP Billiton Ltd fell 0.9 percent while Rio Tinto Ltd lost 1.1 percent.
Among gold miners, Australia's top gold producer Newcrest Mining Ltd dropped 2.8 percent after bullion fell as commodity funds sold to square books at the end of October.
Mid-cap gold companies St Barbara Ltd and Perseus Mining Ltd lost 5.2 percent and 4.1 percent respectively.
On Thursday, Wall Street lost ground on as investors fretted about the timing of a pullback in Fed's bond-buying stimulus.
A day earlier the U.S. central bank recommitted buying its $85 billion of bonds per month, but it expressed less anxiety about credit conditions, which some investors interpreted as a sign that the Fed could begin tapering sooner than expected.
Bega Cheese Ltd shares soared 11.6 percent to trade at all-time highs of A$4.92 after New Zealand's Fonterra acquired a 6 percent stake in the Australian company for A$46 million ($44 million).
Elsewhere Highlands Pacific Ltd surged 47.5 percent to A$0.09 after PanAust entered into a share sale and purchase agreement to acquire a majority interest in the Frieda River copper-gold project.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was trading flat at 4,907.3 points.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
- Target holiday cyber breach hits 40 million payment cards
- Housing, jobs data weaken, but overall economic picture still upbeat
- UPDATE 3-Saab wins Brazil jet deal after NSA spying sours Boeing bid
- Zuckerberg to sell Facebook shares worth about $2.3 billion
- Special Report: Why Ukraine spurned the EU and embraced Russia