(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, April 7 Australian shares fell 0.2
percent on Monday morning after a disappointing performance on
Wall Street despite solid U.S. jobs numbers on Friday, though
Wesfarmers rose after the company said it was selling its
Heavy eight banking stocks, which have had a stellar run in
recent months, weighed on the broader market as investors took
some money off the table.
The 'Big Four' banks lost ground, with Westpac Banking Corp
off 0.5 percent and Commonwealth Bank of Australia
, the nation's largest bank by market capitalisation,
shed 0.1 percent.
"Their valuations have become stretched," said Matthew
Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual in
"What we have to remember with the banks is that they're at
the bottom of their bad and doubtful debt cycles, credit growth
isn't really accelerating, there's intense competition which is
pressing down margins."
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 12.9 points to 5,409.9 by
0125 GMT. The benchmark tacked on 0.2 percent on Friday and 1
percent for the week, its third consecutive week of gains.
In Friday's session on Wall Street, the big drop in momentum
stocks overshadowed the day's relatively strong March jobs data,
with the Dow Jones industrial average off 0.96 percent, and the
Nasdaq losing 2.6 percent, its worst daily percentage loss since
A handful of defensives also fell with Australia's biggest
telecommunications provider Telstra Corporation Ltd
fell 0.5 percent, while biotechnology firm CSL Ltd lost
Index heavyweight Wesfarmers Ltd bucked the trend,
adding 0.8 percent after agreeing to sell its insurance broking
and premium businesses to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co for
Perpetual's Sherwood said the market is also being held back
by the absence of major catalysts. "There's not going to be a
lot around to give investors renewed confidence."
Mining stocks were down after copper slipped on persistent
investor concerns about slowing growth in top consumer China.
BHP Billiton Ltd fell 0.3 percent and Rio Tinto Ltd
slipped 0.2 percent. An Australian court on Monday
ruled against a proposal by Rio Tinto to expand its Warkworth
coal mine in New South Wales, placing the mine's future in
The gold sector benefited after bullion rose 1 percent on
Friday, its biggest gain in nearly a month thanks to the brisk
U.S. employment growth in March. Among gold miners, Newcrest
Mining Ltd climbed 2.1 percent, while Regis Resources
Ltd jumped 2 percent.
Iron Road Ltd bounced 6.5 percent after the company
cleared a key regulatory hurdle for its Central Eyre iron
project, with the potential to generate annual forecast revenues
of $2.8 billion.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.7
percent to 5,088.9.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)