SYDNEY, April 8 Australian stocks slipped 0.3
percent on Tuesday morning after another weak session on Wall
Street, though broader market losses were contained by firmer
metals prices and gains in stocks set to benefit from Canberra's
free trade deal with Japan.
Banks dragged on the market, with Commonwealth Bank of
Australia shedding 0.3 percent and National Australia
Bank Ltd declining 0.5 percent.
The higher metals prices propped up BHP Billiton Ltd
, which climbed 0.3 percent, and Fortescue Metals Group
rose 0.8 percent.
Blue-chip Rio Tinto Ltd also recovered from earlier
losses and was up 0.1 percent after the miner lost a legal fight
to expand its Warkworth coal mine in Australia on Monday. Rio
says the coal mine was necessary to maintain viability as coal
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 13.9 points to 5,399.8
by 0149 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.2 percent on Monday.
A free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia and Japan
helped stocks related to beef, dairy, wine and other agriculture
products, said Will Cleland, associate director of institutional
dealing at PhillipCapital.
Tokyo and Canberra clinched a basic trade deal on Monday to
cut import tariffs, including a halving of the levy on frozen
beef to 19.5 percent with deep cuts in the first year - and an
end to an Australian duty on cars.
"Iron ore prices have been slightly up, and we've seen this
free trade agreement with Japan. That's positive, and you will
see agriculture stocks improving a little bit," Cleland said.
Australia Agriculture Company Ltd, the biggest
listed beef company, jumped 4.5 percent and touched a 14-month
high of A$1.32 in morning trade as the FTA is seen boosting beef
export to Japan.
Treasury Wine Estates rose 5.4 percent, jumping on
the prospect of wine export to Japan and on comments from new
chief executive Michael Clarke that the company "must take
action to reduce overhead expenditure."
Taxi fare processor Cabcharge Australia Ltd plunged
7.6 percent to a two-month low, after the New South Wales
government proposed to set the service fee at 5 percent and
would likely reduce taxi service fee income by A$14
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 1.1
percent to 5,022.3.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)