Australia shares flat in muted trade, Treasury Wine climbs

Thu May 1, 2014 10:16pm EDT

* Trading muted ahead of key U.S. jobs report

* S&P/ASX 200 flat as resources dip offsets gains among financials (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong

SYDNEY, May 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.1 percent in muted trade on Friday, as resource stocks fell on weak metals prices, though gains in the financial sector and Treasury Wine helped keep the market afloat as investors await key U.S. jobs data.

Financials rebounded from a sell-off over previous sessions. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group both added 0.4 percent while National Australia Bank was up 0.3 percent.

Macquarie reversed early losses to add 0.1 percent as Australia's top investment bank beat forecasts with a 56 percent jump in half-year earnings, although analysts said investors were disappointed with its soft guidance.

Treasury Wine Estate Ltd shares soared 10.3 percent to three-month highs of A$4.235 after reports French company Pernod Ricard was interested in buying its troubled U.S. assets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dipped 4.6 points to 5,444.1 by 0206 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.7 percent on Thursday and is on track to post a 1.6 percent loss for the week, which would snap six consecutive weeks of gains.

Volumes were low, with 155.9 million shares traded by 0203 GMT compared to a daily moving average of 611.5 million shares so far in 2014.

"It's typical price action ahead of U.S. jobs," said Peter Esho, chief market analyst at broker Invast.

"U.S. jobs are out tonight and non-farm payroll numbers and our market always goes to sleep going into the U.S. jobs numbers with a few exceptions here or there. I expect it to stay that way for the rest of the day."

Among miners, bluechips BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd lost 0.9 percent and 0.1 percent each, while Iluka Resources Ltd dropped 1.5 percent. Aluminium fell to a one-month low, and copper dropped to its lowest in two-weeks following disappointing data on factory activity in top consumer China.

Padbury Mining Ltd plunged 85 percent to 3-month lows of A$0.005 after funding for its planned Oakajee port and rail project in Western Australia collapsed.

In the retail sector, Myer Holdings Ltd lost 2.8 percent to 1-1/2 year lows of A$2.11 after the Australian department store operator reported a 0.9 percent fall in third-quarter total sales to A$646.5 million. Rival David Jones Ltd added 0.1 percent.

Affinity Education Group Ltd climbed 2.3 percent after increasing its debt facilities with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to A$115 million.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent or 17.8 points to 5,227.0.

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)