Australia shares firmer, led by financial sector; NZ slips
* IOOF jumps on strong results
* ANZ rises as investors expect lender to be less
* Blackmores flags China concerns, sends a2 Milk, Bellamy's
By Nikhil Nainan
Feb 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday, led by
financials sector gains, which outweighed declines in other
segments of the market as patchy company results and guidance
raised concerns about future growth.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 percent to 6,106.8 by
0022 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.4 percent higher on Monday.
Financial stocks, led by the country's "Big Four" banks,
were the biggest boosts to the index, up between 0.7 percent to
1.4 percent. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
rose as much as 1.2 percent to its highest level in nearly two
The country's third largest bank reported slower mortgage
book growth than the overall sector on Tuesday, but the market
took comments by the lender's chief that it may have been
"overly conservative" in its lending approach as a positive.
"I think investors are looking at that and saying that the
bank is going to have increased appetite for residential and
investor lending," said David Ellis, a banking analyst
"That should partially assist in getting lending growth back
up to system levels."
IOOF Holdings was the second biggest percentage
gainer on the benchmark, up 14.5 percent to a more than
The wealth manager posted a 5 percent rise in underlying
first-half profit as it benefited from the part purchase of
ANZ's wealth unit.
Elsewhere, vitamin maker Blackmores Ltd was the
biggest loser, dropping nearly 35 percent after it flagged weak
sales from China, its key market.
Its peer Bellamy's Australia, which focuses on baby
food, dropped 4.6 percent.
Hearing implant maker Cochlear Ltd fell about 10
percent to a more than one-month low, as it flagged slowing
growth across developed markets in the 2019 financial year.
"I think expectations were because of the stronger U.S.
dollar, Cochlear should have been doing better. But they are
talking about slowing growth in the U.S. and Europe as well,
which will have taken the market a little bit by surprise," said
Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut
Oil Search fell about 2 percent after its annual
profits missed estimates.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.2
percent, or 15.56 points, to 9,229.88.
a2 Milk Company Ltd fell as much as 6.5 percent
before paring some losses.
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(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam
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