(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, Feb 5 Australian shares slipped 0.6
percent on Tuesday after discouraging U.S. factory orders hit
Wall Street and political ructions in Spain and Italy spurred
profit-taking, while investors awaited the results of a Reserve
Bank of Australia meeting due later in the day.
Banks weighed on the index, with Commonwealth Bank of
Australia, the country's top lender, down 0.7 percent.
Global iron ore miners were weaker, with BHP Billiton Ltd
losing 1.5 percent and Rio Tinto Ltd falling
"Basically the market's tracking Europe and the U.S. lower,
of course we did see risk assets struggle across the board,"
said Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG Markets.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was 28.3 points
lower at 4,879.2 as of 0030 GMT. On Monday, the benchmark index
hit an intraday high of 4,951 but ended down 13.6 points at
The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to hold the cash
rate steady at 3.0 percent at its first meeting of the year on
"No one really knows what to expect today, the consensus is
no change but what will make a difference is the statement and
what it says about the economy and what we can expect going
forward," Shamu said.
Defensive stocks were mostly firmer, with food retailer
giant Wesfarmers gaining 0.9 percent, while blood
products maker CSL Ltd rose 1.1 percent. But
telecommunications provider Telstra lost 0.8 percent.
Oil miners were also weak. Woodside Petroleum
dropped 1.6 percent, while Santos Ltd lost 0.8 percent.
A corruption scandal in Spain and polls showing Italy's
former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi regaining ground before
elections this month triggered fresh concern over potential
threats to euro zone stability and growth.
"That news coming out of Europe is just making some
investors feel like they need to exercise caution. Europe was
one of the dominant themes last year weighing on markets and it
seems like it's now resurfacing to rear its ugly head," said
Wall Street stocks slid on Monday, giving the S&P 500 its
worst day since November, as renewed worries about the euro zone
crisis caused the market to pull back from recent gains.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.8
percent, or 32.5 points, to 4,213.9.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Macquarie Group Ltd tumbled 3.6 percent.
Australia's top investment bank forecast a smaller-than expected
10 percent rise in 2013 profit.
* Cochlear slumped 5.4 percent. The maker of bionic
ears reported half-year revenue was up 1 percent at A$391.7
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Chris Gallagher)