* Banks lose ground after recent record highs
* SGF Australia surges on takeover news
By Maggie Lu Yueyang
SYDNEY, May 16 Australian shares slipped on
Friday, tracking a pullback in Wall Street stocks, with
investors eyeing potential offshore risks including a slowing
Chinese economy and the Ukraine crisis in the absence of major
Banks weighed on the market, with top lender Commonwealth
Bank of Australia losing 0.8 percent after touching a
record high the previous day. Australia and New Zealand Banking
Group shed 0.7 percent and Westpac Banking Corp
fell 0.6 percent as both stocks traded ex-dividend.
"Given the fact most of them have already traded ex-dividend
- interest might be limited in the near term, until they return
to more appealing levels," said Stan Shamu, market strategist at
The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.5 percent or 26
points at 5,484.2 as of 0144 GMT, after rising 0.3 percent to a
two-week high on Thursday. It is up 0.4 percent on the week.
The benchmark struck a near six-year high of 5,554.5 points
on April 29, but has drifted sideways in a narrow range this
week as economic events and a handful of corporate results
offered no major surprises.
Investors in equities have a long list to worry about
including the market being overvalued, the end to U.S. monetary
stimulus and a slowdown in China, Tim Radford, global investment
manager at Rivkin Securities, said in a note to clients.
"At the moment, there isn't much to be positive about,"
Radford said. "The biggest near-term concern is the fact U.S.
equity markets haven't had a large scale correction in over two
years, with stocks losing momentum fast."
Among notable movers, SGF Australia rocketed 21.2
percent to A$0.885, its highest point since May 2002, after
agreeing to a takeover by larger financial services rival IOOF
Holdings Ltd for about A$670 million. IOOF rose 2.1
Toll road operator Transurban jumped 1.4 percent to
a five-week high of A$7.36 after credit ratings agency Moody's
affirmed its BAA1 rating and revised the outlook to stable from
developing, after the company successfully completed a capital
raising to fund its acquisition of Queensland Motorways.
Elsewhere, Leighton Holdings Ltd said it is still
in advanced negotiations regarding the settlement of a
shareholder class action, and a settlement has not yet been
signed. Leighton shares were down 1.3 percent.
Goodman Fielder Ltd said it will consider a fresh
A$1.37 billion takeover offer from Wilmar International
and First Pacific Co. Shares in the
Australian food company slipped 0.3 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.4
percent to 5,175.6.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang, additional reporting by Thuy
Ong; Editing by Chris Gallagher)