* ASX 200 shares off 6-year highs, set to snap 7-session
* 82 shares higher, 96 shares lower, 20 shares unchanged
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Naomi Tajitsu
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, August 25 Australian shares
lost 0.3 percent on Monday, slipping from six-year highs as Wall
Street lost ground and iron ore hit a two-month low dragging
An uptick in the earnings of oil company Caltex Ltd
, however, helped temper losses among energy stocks.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 15.1 points to 5,630.5 by
0223 GMT. The benchmark edged 0.1 percent higher on Friday, its
seventh consecutive session of gains and its longest streak
since mid-July. The ASX 200 gained 1.4 percent for the week, its
second straight week of rises.
U.S. stocks ended mostly lower on Friday as Ukraine-Russia
tensions reignited and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said
the Fed needed to move with caution on when to raise interest
rates even as economic data shows improvements.
Iron ore dropped below $92 to its lowest since June, hitting
stocks in the resource sector. Among top global miners, BHP
Billiton Ltd lost 1.1 percent, while Rio Tinto Ltd
dropped 1 percent.
Iron and steel producer Bluescope Steel Ltd slumped
12.6 percent to trade near February lows of A$5.33, after
reporting a sharp recovery in annual earnings, but missed market
forecasts for earnings and core profits.
Caltex Ltd jumped 4.5 percent to its highest since
June 2007 of A$26.70 after reporting its half-year profit on
replacement costs at A$173 million compared with A$171 million,
while saying it would cut 350 jobs across its operational and
Among gas and energy companies, Santos Ltd added
0.3 percent, while Australia's top oil and gas producer Woodside
Petroleum Ltd edged 0.1 percent higher.
The Australian benchmark index hit a 5-1/2 week trough of
5,509.0 on Aug. 8, but has since jumped some 140 points to trade
at six-year highs, underpinned by a robust earnings season.
"The market is just dribbling higher until the big picture
changes in regards to U.S. monetary policy," said John Zhu, a
portfolio manager at Triple 3 Partners, an independent
investment manager in Sydney.
"Apart from stock-specific news which would drive individual
stocks, volatility would be on the low side."
Among earnings, NIB Holdings Ltd gained 1.8 percent
after its full-year net profit rose 4 percent to A$69.9 million,
while UGL Ltd lost 2.4 percent after the Australian
engineering and property services company said underlying net
profit came in at A$111.7 million, below its forecast of A$120
Orora Ltd bounced 9.5 percent to A$1.61, an
all-time high after reporting a 29.6 percent rise in proforma
earnings before interest and tax to A$192.1 million.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index rose 32.45
points to 5,199.45, its best intraday level since mid-May.
Gains were led by a 5.2 percent rise in accounting software
developer Xero to a near one-month high of NZ$25.01,
extending gains on a company announcement last week that its
customer base had nearly doubled in Australia in the past year.
Metlifecare jumped 3 percent to a 2-1/2-month high
of NZ$4.44 after the retirement home operator raised its final
dividend after underlying profits came in line with company
Chorus slipped 0.6 percent to NZ$1.72 after the
struggling telecommunications network operator reported a fall
in profit and issued a lower earnings forecast for 2015.
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)