(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Jan 13 Australian shares slipped 0.2
percent on Monday morning, but the market pared early losses as
resource stocks rose on firmer metals prices and on news that
Indonesia has halted all mineral ore exports.
On Sunday, Indonesia, among the world's biggest suppliers of
natural resources, halted all mineral ore exports to try to
promote domestic processing, threatening the country's nickel
and bauxite industries worth more than $2 billion in annual
Shares in nickel miners soared on the news on expectations
global nickel prices will rise. Alumina Ltd jumped 4.2
percent to 10-month highs of A$1.16, while Mincor Resources
climbed 2.7 percent.
Western Areas Ltd soared 10.2 percent to a
two-month high of A$2.59.
The Indonesian news is driving the nickel miners and is also
having a modest impact across the broader resources sector, said
Chris Kimber, managing director at Kimber Capital.
"It was more that the resource stocks sold off on two or
three sessions last week, after some slightly disappointing PMI
numbers from China. I think it's a bounce back after last week
on low volumes," he said.
An uptick in gold prices pushed gold producer Newcrest
Mining Ltd up 5 percent while bluechip BHP Billiton Ltd
rose 0.7 percent on the back of firmer copper prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 7.8 points to 5,304.6 by
0105 GMT, hovering 150-odd points below the 4-1/2 year high of
5,457.3 hit on Oct 28.
The 'Big Four' banks lost ground with the Commonwealth Bank
of Australia off 0.3 percent while Westpac Banking Corp
slipped 0.1 percent.
The benchmark eased 0.7 percent last week, snapping three
weeks of consecutive gains and has fallen for six of the eight
sessions traded in 2014 so far, as concerns over slowing growth
in China hurt sentiment. China is Australia's largest export
In the defensive sector, consumer retail staple Wesfarmers
Ltd lost 0.7 percent while blood products maker CSL Ltd
fell 0.2 percent.
Elsewhere, Top communications provider Telstra Corporation
Ltd slipped 0.1 percent after agreeing to sell 70
percent of its directories business Sensis to a U.S. private
equity firm at a much lower price than what local media had
Dart Energy Ltd soared 10.4 percent to a two-month
high of A$0.13 after the company entered into a farm-out
agreement with Total E&P UK Ltd.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.5
percent to 4,888.7.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)