* Discretionary stocks fall as consumer sentiment survey
* Resources drop as iron ore price continues tumble
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Naomi Tajitsu
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, May 21 Australian shares
slipped on Wednesday, hurt by miners as iron ore prices extended
a worrying slide and added to a confluence of negative factors,
including a drop in consumer sentiment and a ditched investment
plan by Woodside Petroleum Ltd.
A measure of Australian consumer sentiment slumped in May to
its lowest in over two years as households fretted about their
own finances a week after the government unveiled a string of
spending cuts and new levies in a tough fiscal budget.
Consumer discretionary stocks fell on the news with
retailers Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd and David Jones
Ltd dropping 1.6 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.
Ten Network Holdings Ltd lost 1.1 percent.
"High petrol and utility prices, moderate wage growth and
looming welfare cuts are likely to limit the discretionary
wallet," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets
in a note to clients. "Companies reliant on discretionary
spending will be hoping for a lift in consumer confidence over
coming months that might flow through into less saving and more
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 30.2 points to 5,390.2
by 0217 GMT, hitting near six-week lows. The benchmark ended 0.2
percent higher on Tuesday. U.S. stocks fell in a broad selloff
overnight, with major indexes hitting session lows in afternoon
The resource sector remained in the doldrums as Chinese iron
ore futures fell for a third straight day to a fresh low and
spot prices fell further below $100 a tonne on weak buying from
steel mills in top consumer China.
Top tier miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd
were down 1.7 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. Oz
Minerals Ltd stumbled 2 percent.
Banking stocks were also on the back foot with top lender
Commonwealth Bank of Australia losing 0.6 percent.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd dropped 1.3 percent to
one-month lows of A$40.38 after Australia's top gas producer
ditched plans to take a stake worth up to $2.7 billion in
Israel's flagship Leviathan gas project after failing to resolve
a tax dispute.
Qantas Airways Ltd was down 1.5 percent after the
embattled airline carrier said passenger numbers for April
decreased by 1.5 percent from the previous year.
Adelaide Brighton Ltd tripped 3.5 percent to 3-1/2
month lows of A$3.63 after saying its first half net profit
after tax is expected to be similar to 2013, excluding charges.
Austin Engineering Ltd slumped 20.7 percent to
5-year lows of A$1.21 after reducing its EBITDA guidance range
to between A$15 million and A$18 million.
In New Zealand, the NZ50 share index slipped 0.7
percent to 4-week lows of 5,099.3 led by losses in children's
clothing maker Pumpkin Patch and technology companies
including Diligent and Xero, the latter of
which will announce its annual results on Thursday.
Further losses in the index were limited by a rebound in
online auction site Trade Me, which rose 1.1 percent to
NZ$3.55, clawing back from a two-year low of NZ$3.53 hit the
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)