Australia shares dip as political uncertainty knocks sentiment; NZ slips
* Eyes on Aussie parliament and PM Malcolm Turnbull
* Financials weigh heavily on Aussie benchmark
* Energy stocks gain, Santos jumps on HY results, Quadrant
By Aaron Saldanha
Aug 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Thursday, as
uncertainty over who the country's next prime minister would be
rattled investor confidence and losses in financials capped
wider gains from resources firms.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's leadership looked doomed
on Thursday after three of his senior ministers who backed him
in a leadership vote on Tuesday tendered their resignations and
called for a repeat vote.
The country's parliament was adjourned on Thursday to allow
for a meeting of the ruling Liberal party, with former home
affairs minister Peter Dutton and Treasurer Scott Morrison seen
as likely contenders for leadership. The Aussie dollar
was trading more than 0.8 percent lower against the greenback.
"We are seeing elevated sovereign risk in our country, I
think it looks like the Prime Minister is going to get knocked
off any minute now, so there is definitely sovereign risk here
compared with emerging markets," said Mathan Somasundaram,
market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.
Financials pushed the benchmark S&P ASX 200 index
down 0.2 percent to 6,256.1 at 0200 GMT on Thursday but a deeper
decline was averted by gains in the materials and energy
sectors. The benchmark lost 0.3 percent on Wednesday.
Financial stocks were 1.1 percent lower, with
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation's largest
lender, down 1.2 percent and Australia and New Zealand Banking
Group Ltd dipping 1.9 percent.
Blue Ocean Equities' Somasundaram said money parked in
Australian financials was being redeployed as trade war fears
eased somewhat, sending funds to growth-oriented investments.
Shares of Qantas Airways were down 6.9 percent
despite the airline reporting a record annual profit, as it
flagged a rise of about A$690 million in its fiscal 2019 fuel
Supporting sentiment, however, global miner BHP and
peer Rio Tinto Ltd were 1.4 percent and 0.5 percent
Australian energy stocks were trading 0.5 percent
higher, after oil prices rose 3 percent on Wednesday, after a
larger-than-expected draw in crude inventories and as
Washington's sanctions on Iran signaled tightening supply.
The sector index's move was helped by gains in stocks such
as Santos Ltd, which was trading up as much as 10.5
percent after saying first-half underlying profit nearly doubled
and reviving its dividend.
On Wednesday, Santos agreed to buy privately held Quadrant
Energy for at least $2.15 billion, grabbing what may be the
biggest oil find off Western Australia in over two decades.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index slipped, as stocks such as Air New Zealand
weighed on the index.
The benchmark was trading 0.1 percent lower at 9,151.58 on
Thursday. It rose 0.5 percent on Wednesday.
Air New Zealand was trading down 2.9 percent after a two
percent rise in the airline's full year net profit attributable
missed analysts' estimates.
For more individual stocks activity click on
(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha, Additional reporting by Nikhil
Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.