Aussie shares subdued as weak banks offset strong miners, NZ up
* CBA puts demerger of wealth, mortgage units on ice
* Zinc supply issues boost prices, mining stocks such as
* Consumer stocks help NZX
By Devika Syamnath
March 14 (Reuters) - Australian equities slipped on
Thursday, as weakness in lenders offset resources stocks, which
were bolstered by higher commodity prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1 percent or 4.6 points
to 6,156.6 by 0102 GMT, after having gained as much as 0.3
The benchmark has cooled in recent sessions. It closed 0.2
percent lower on Wednesday after rising about 9.3 percent since
the start of this year.
Financial stocks slid 0.4 percent, with top lender
Commonwealth Bank of Australia down as much as 0.7
percent in its sixth straight losing session. The sub-index had
gained over 8 percent in February when recommendations from an
inquiry into widespread misconduct in the sector turned out to
be less severe than expected.
CBA has shelved preparations for a split of its wealth
management and mortgage broking businesses to focus on
implementing the recommendations of a Royal
"The rationale that they're no longer demerging it is
probably the fact that they don't think that they could create
as much value as they hoped," said Damian Rooney, director of
equity sales at Argonaut.
Mining stocks outperformed.
Zinc prices held close to an eight-month high as floods in
Queensland state last month have disrupted supply, affecting
major zinc miners such as South 32, which rose over 2
Global mining behemoths Rio Tinto and BHP Group
advanced as much as 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent,
BHP has stepped up exploration for gas off Trinidad and
Tobago hunting which could supply the country's Atlantic LNG
(liquefied natural gas) plant in the 2020s, a senior executive
Energy players Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Origin
Energy Ltd added 1.3 percent and 1.5 percent,
respectively, as an unexpected fall in U.S. crude inventories
bolstered world oil prices.
Gold stocks benefited from the U.S. Federal
Reserve's patient stance on monetary policy and as the British
parliament turned down a "no-deal" Brexit, which led to a weaker
dollar that made the yellow metal cheaper in other currencies.
Newcrest Mining Ltd rose to its highest in over
2-1/2 years. It inked two deals this week - an exploration joint
venture with a London-listed peer as well as an acquisition of a
majority stake in a Canadian mine.
New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index was up a marginal
4.49 points at 9,392.18, helped by consumer stocks such as
Synlait Milk Ltd which gained as much as 1.9 percent.
(Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim
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