(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Jan 23 Australian shares slipped 0.1
percent on Thursday as investors turned more cautious after
disappointing local CPI data on Wednesday and Wall Street's
muted finish overnight.
In the finance sector, bluechips Westpac Banking Corp
and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
slipped 0.5 percent and 0.1 percent.
Insurance Australia Group lost 2.9 percent to
one-month lows of A$5.60 after the company reduced its gross
written premium (GWP) growth guidance to 3 percent to 5 percent.
Rival Suncorp Group Ltd plumbed 2.3
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 7.7 points to 5,312.1
by 0041 GMT. The benchmark slipped 0.2 percent on Wednesday and
has drifted lower in January, falling for seven of the past 10
"I think it's centring around what's happening in the local
economy, the pressure we've had from those bad jobs numbers, and
then the pressure again from the CPI numbers," said Kara Ordway,
market-maker and trader at City Index.
On Wednesday, Australian consumer price inflation rose by
far more than expected last quarter as the costs of food,
holiday travel and tobacco all rose.
"It's also created a general bad feeling within the local
stock market and it's really following through in terms of
underperforming compared to what we're seeing in the U.S. and
Other analysts said the Australian market would likely to
continue underperforming its global peers until economic
conditions, including high inflation in Australia and slowing
growth in China, improved significantly.
The mining sector also dipped as copper slipped and iron ore
fell to its weakest level in more than six months.
Top miner BHP Billiton Ltd fell 0.2 percent and OZ
Minerals Ltd dropped 1.1 percent.
Whitehaven Coal Ltd slipped 0.5 after the resource
company said it expects to see a modest drop in prices for its
metallurgical coal in the current quarter on subdued demand from
Some defensives traded higher, helping to buoy the market
from the session's lows. Australia's largest telecommunications
provider Telstra Corporation Ltd added 0.2 percent and
biotechnology company CSL Ltd rose 0.8 percent.
Newcrest Mining Ltd climbed 1.9 percent after the
gold producer reported an increase in gold and copper production
compared to a year prior and said production for 2014 will be in
the top of its guidance range.
Dart Energy Ltd soared 14.3 percent to three month
highs of A$0.16, recovering modestly from a rout in share price
in 2013, where the stock plummeted 32.3 percent. Last week Total
became the first major oil and gas company to strike a
deal to explore for shale gas in Britain, with Dart Energy one
of three firms involved in the deal.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index shed 0.4
percent to 4,930.3.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)