| March 21
March 21 Australian shares were tepid on
Tuesday, taking their cue from Wall Street, which fell on
concerns that President Donald Trump's promises of tax cuts will
take longer than expected.
The U.S. stock market's rally since Trump's election has
faltered in recent weeks as investors fret about a lack of
clarity on his proposals to reform taxes and cut regulation.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.1 percent at
5,774.40 by 0104 GMT.
"The overall driver is just a weaker lead from U.S. markets
and probably an overall situation where there's not a lot of
good news recently," said Ric Spooner, Chief Market Analyst at
There is "pressure on some of the sectors, related to higher
interest rates, with banks and the real estate sectors both down
on speculation that there may be further tightening of lending
standards towards debtors in the real estate markets."
Two of the country's "Big Four" banks, National Australia
Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, had raised
interest rates on residential investments last week.
Financial and real estate stocks were the biggest drag on
The ASX 200 financials index hit its lowest in two
weeks, with Westpac Banking Corp and Commonwealth Bank of
Australia falling 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent,
Real estate stocks Scentre Group shed 1.1 percent
and Goodman Group Pty Ltd fell 0.9 percent.
Meanwhile, gold stocks jumped 1 percent as prices of
the precious metal hit two-week highs due to the U.S. dollar
hovering near a six-week low, extending last week's weakness
following recent interest-rate guidance from the U.S. Federal
Gold is sensitive to falling interest rates, which reduces
the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
Newcrest Mining Ltd, Evolution Mining Ltd
and St Barbara Ltd gained between 0.9 percent and 2.8
Airline operator Virgin Australia gained 1.3
percent, after it said it would run five return flights a week
between the city of Melbourne and Hong Kong.
Cleaning and catering services provider Spotless Group
Holdings Ltd jumped 45.5 percent after Downer EDI
made an offer to buy Spotless shares it does not
already own for A$1.27 bln.
Shares in Downer were in a trading halt.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3
percent, or 23.12 points, to 7,080.17.
Material and consumer staples drove the index higher, with
Fletcher Building Ltd rising 1.5 percent, while a2 Milk
Company Ltd gained 4.5 percent.
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(Additional reporting by Christina Martin; Editing by