February 15, 2013 / 1:05 AM / 5 years ago

Australia shares slip, weak Euro data and Rio results hurt sentiment

(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
    SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares
slipped 0.1 percent on Friday as the market consolidated recent
strong gains and investors remained cautious after weak euro
zone growth data and a $3 billion annual loss from Rio Tinto.
    Global iron ore miner Rio Tinto Ltd tumbled 2.4
percent after the company's new chief flagged he would slash
costs, spend capital more carefully and focus on shareholder
value as the world's no.3 miner reported a $3 billion loss, its
first ever full-year loss. Rival BHP Billiton Ltd
 eased 0.6 percent.
    The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was 6.9 points lower
at 5,030 at 0044 GMT.
    "The European news overnight was unfortunately a little bit
poor," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG Markets.
    "It's probably not affecting us as much as we expected; the
real effect on our market has been the Rio Tinto result," which
has tugged the market down, he said.
    Financials were mixed. Australia New Zealand Banking Group
 lost 0.8 percent. The bank reported a cash profit for
the three months to 31 December 2012 of A$1.53 billion, but
earnings were constrained by a weaker performance in the bank's
international and institutional banking business. 
    Australia's no.1 lender the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
 edged up 0.1 percent after reaching all-time highs
earlier this week following a strong first half earnings report.
National Australia Bank jumped 1.1 percent while
Westpac Banking Corp was up 0.4 percent.
    Gold miners were also weak, with Newcrest Mining 
losing 0.5 percent while Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd 
tumbled 3.3 percent.
    The eurozone slipped into recession in the last three months
of 2012 after its largest economies, Germany and France, shrank
at the end of a wretched year for the region. 
    "The European figures does show the region is fragile. Not
as much as the lead from Europe as I expected but it certainly
has seen us have a bit of a pause today rather than a drop,"
Lucas said.
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index dropped 1.1
percent or 48.6 points to 4,190.6.
    New Zealand's Auckland International Airport Ltd 
fell 5.8 percent to NZ$2.77 after the government's NZ
Superannuation Fund said it had sold 100 million airport company
shares to institutional investors at NZ$2.76, a 6.1 percent
discount to the closing price on Thursday. The sale saw the Fund
reduce its holding to around 2 percent from around 10 percent.
    * Wesfarmers jumped 1.4 percent to A$39.43 after it
posted half-year revenue from ordinary activities to A$30.6
    (0041 GMT)

 (Reporting by Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford; Editing by Shri
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