Australia shares steady ahead of Fed meeting; NZ down
* Fed meeting anticipation prompts thin trade
* Miners continue rally on commodity prices
* Financials and healthcare stocks weigh on NZ shares
By Shanima A
March 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares were little changed
in thin trade on Tuesday, ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve
policy meeting later in the day, with healthcare stocks
offsetting gains in the mining sector which was buoyed by robust
iron ore prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.06 percent or 3.5
points to 6,187 by 0031 GMT. The benchmark added 0.3 percent on
The two-day policy meeting of the United States central bank
begins on Tuesday in which it is expected to leave interest
rates unchanged, with investors even building in bets for a rate
cut in 2020.
Locally, healthcare stocks, which conduct the bulk of their
business in the United States, were in red as the U.S. dollar
The U.S. dollar stuck close to a two-week low as caution
about the American economy and expectations for an accommodative
Federal Reserve kept the greenback subdued.
Biopharmaceutical company, CSL Ltd, accounted for
most of the declines in the sector. CSL also saw some
consolidation after the stock struck a more than five-month high
The stock is the fifth largest on the ASX 200.
The financial index fell more than 0.2 percent, with the Big
Four banks, excluding Westpac, dipping between 0.3 percent and
Shares of Westpac Banking Corp were marginally
higher after the country's second largest bank said it was
exiting the provision of personal financial advice through a
sale agreement with Viridian Advisory.
Global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto were
boosted by strong iron ore prices, rising as much as over 1.3
percent each. The sub-index rose to a near three-week
Chinese iron ore futures have risen to a two-week high, due
to concerns over tight supply of the steel-making raw material
after Brazilian miner Vale SA announced further
Elsewhere, A U.S. judge on Monday rejected Rio Tinto Plc's
bid to dismiss a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit
accusing the mining company of civil fraud in its handling of a
failed investment in a Mozambique coal project.
The benchmark New Zealand S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2
percent or 21.15 points to 9,493.97, at 0010 GMT in lacklustre
trade. Losses in the financials and healthcare stocks dragged
the index down from a record high on Monday.
(Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)
© 2019 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.