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SYDNEY, Jan 8 Australian shares ended 0.6
percent lower on Tuesday, losing steam as miners and banks
retreated, showing just how cautious investors are towards a
steep rise in iron ore prices, U.S. corporate earnings and debt
Data due out of China this week could go some way to
relieving these concerns, analysts said.
Top miner BHP Billiton Ltd eased 0.8 percent, while
Rio Tinto Ltd fell 1.2 percent.
"After the big run that iron ore and related stocks have had
over the past few weeks, we might see a bit of correction in the
short term," said Stan Shamu, a market analyst at IG Markets.
Meanwhile iron ore rose above $150 per tonne, rebounding 77
percent since hitting three-year lows below $87 in September as
Chinese appetite bounced back along with signs its economic
growth is picking up.
"It's well above their expectations," said Shamu, noting
that most miners are looking at iron ore stabilizing at $120 per
tonne. "Most analysts are sceptical that maybe the current level
may be not very sustainable."
The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 27.1 points at
4,690.2, according to the latest data. It slipped 0.1 percent to
4,717.3 on Monday.
Major banks pulled back from gains on new Basel liquidity
rules. Australia's biggest lender, Commonwealth Bank of
Australia, lost nearly 2.0 percent, stepping back from
an all-time high hit in the previous session.
"There is not a huge conviction in the market at the
moment," said Martin Lakos, a division director at Macquarie
Private Wealth, pointing to looming U.S. talks to raise the
country's politically-sensitive debt ceiling.
"Investors are still going to be cautious leading up to the
28th of February deadline for the debt ceiling negotiations," he
Energy stocks gained on higher oil prices, with the
country's biggest oil producer Woodside petroleum Ltd
rising 1.0 percent.
Oil and gas producer Linc Energy Ltd soared 10.9
percent after it said it broke an oil production milestone of
6,000 barrels per day.
Coal seam gas producer Westside Corp Ltd added 1.2
percent after it said it was continuing discussions with a party
which submitted a conditional and confidential takeover proposal
Defensive stocks were mixed, with No. 1 telecommunications
provider Telstra adding 0.2 percent and blood products
producer CSL Ltd down 0.4 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index inched up 0.1
percent to close at a fresh 5-year high of 4,090.4.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Eric Meijer)