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Aug 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares declined on Wednesday as a two-day winning streak gave way to renewed worries about the global economy, with miners and retailers dragging down the broader market.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.9% lower at 6,483.30 after gaining about 2.2% over the past two sessions.
Financial shares led U.S. stocks lower overnight to end a three-day rally as investors awaited comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the end of the week.
“Concerns about global growth returned to haunt the markets and Australia was doubly affected because of pressure on industrial metals,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. “Any buying that we did see tended to be focused in domestic sectors - healthcare and utilities - which are not exposed to the trade issues.”
The heavyweight mining stocks dented the Australian market as Chinese iron ore futures sank to their lowest in 10 weeks after mining giant BHP Group gave a downbeat outlook for steelmaking raw material prices.
Mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto Ltd ended 2.9% and 2.5% lower, respectively, while iron ore-focused player Fortescue Metals Group lost a tad more than 4%.
Consumer stocks were also among major decliners with the Australia-listed shares of New Zealand dairy firm a2 Milk Co losing more than 13%.
The parent company of the dairy firm tumbled more than 12% on the New Zealand bourse as it reported lower-than-expected annual profit on higher costs, which ate into gains from robust Chinese sales.
Financials lost about 0.6% with all the “Big Four” lenders ending lower.
Stockland Corp finished about 7% lower after the residential developer posted an annual net profit decline of nearly 70% and warned about a softer performance for the 2020 fiscal year.
Bucking the decline, shares of Australia’s biggest casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd gained 1.3% as investors hoped the company’s domestic revenue would act as a buffer against volatile package holiday spending.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index also snapped a two-day winning run to close about 1% lower at 10,709.32.
However, home builder Fletcher Building Ltd finished 3.3% higher after it posted an annual net profit, swinging from a year-earlier loss, boosted by increased sales and higher demand for its building products.
Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru