Australian shares inch lower as financial stocks drag; NZ flat
* Aussie shares fall for 3rd straight session
* Financial index down 0.4 pct; energy stocks rise 0.7 pct
(Updates to close, adds quotes)
By Niyati Shetty
March 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares reversed course and
edged lower on Tuesday, as gains in mining and energy stocks
were offset by losses in financials at the fag end of the
session after the sector came under further political scrutiny.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.1 percent, or
5.40 points, at 6,174.80. The benchmark declined 0.4 percent on
"The Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg came out in the
last few hours and said that his government would be walking
away from banning trailing commissions for brokers, financial
planners and financial advisers," said Kyle Rodda, market
analyst at IG Markets.
"Potentially it's being seen now that this will put banks
back into the spotlight as a political football. It relates to
the view that the (opposition) labour party will take a hard
line on the financials sector, as a whole."
The financial sector has been under the scanner ever since
revelations of widespread misconduct led to a year-long public
The federal government reversed a key recommendation of the
inquiry and will no longer ban trailing commissions - a fee paid
by investment management firms to financial advisors, the
Australian Financial Review reported https://www.afr.com/news/politics/coalition-backs-down-on-ending-trail-commissions-for-mortgage-brokers-20190312-h1caoj
Financials saw a turnaround in the last hour of
trade, with the index falling 0.4 percent at close.
Lender Westpac Banking Corp lost 0.6 percent, while
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd slipped 1.2
Meanwhile, resource-based stocks gained on encouraging
comments from the Sino-U.S. trade front.
U.S. and China have set the next steps in "working
arrangements", Chinese state news agency Xinhua said, as top
officials from the two sides discussed key issues in their trade
talks over a telephone call.
Markets await a resolution to the long-drawn tariff dispute
which has taken a toll on the economic growth of China -
Australia's largest importer of raw materials.
"There is potential optimism still on the trade deal that is
playing through," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio
strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.
Mining stocks gained 0.3 percent helped by higher
iron ore and base metal prices.
Global miners BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd
added 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Iron
ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd rose 2.7 percent.
Meanwhile, energy stocks gained 0.7 percent buoyed
by a rise in oil prices.
Index heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 0.8
percent, while peer Santos Ltd was 1.9 percent higher.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index ended nearly flat at 9,397.25.
Auckland International Airport Ltd added 0.8
percent, while dairy products maker a2 Milk Company Ltd
was marginally lower.
(Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru, Additional Reporting
Rashmi Ashok; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
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