Australia shares edge lower on week, cyclone curbs miners

Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:57am GMT

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    SYDNEY, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.3
percent on Friday with major miners losing ground after shutting
some operations due to a cyclone, pushing the index to a narrow
weekly loss after seven straight weeks of gains.
    BHP Billiton Ltd lost 2 percent after suspending
offshore oilfields and rival iron ore miner Rio Tinto Ltd
 fell 1.9 percent after shutting down key iron ore
export terminals as Cyclone Narelle intensified off Australia's
northwest coast. 
     The losses overshadowed gains in other sectors after global
markets rallied on better-than-expected Chinese trade data.
    "Underperformance in the big iron ore miners has been the
main theme of the day and has been weighing on the overall
market's performance," said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG
Markets.
    The S&P/ASX 200 index finished the day 13.5 points
lower at 4,709.5. The index also fell 0.3 percent for the week.
    Banks were mixed, with National Australia Bank and
Australia New Zealand Banking Corp up 0.6 percent and
0.4 percent respectively. Australia's no.1 lender, the
Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.4 percent and
Westpac Banking Corp slipped 0.1 percent.
    "We've had another day of healthy consolidation for the
market," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC
Markets.
    China's annual consumer inflation rate accelerated to a
seven-month high of 2.5 percent in December on rising food
prices, ahead of expectations and narrowing the scope for the
central bank to boost the economy by easing monetary policy.
 
    "It's hard to say it's had anything but a mildly positive
effect, both the CPI and PPI numbers came broadly in line -- 
CPI a little higher than market expectations but that's not
necessarily negative, given the low level of inflation,"
McCarthy said. 
    Defensives finished the day mostly stronger, with food
retailers Woolworths and Wesfarmer up 0.6
percent and  0.3 percent respectively. Utility provider AGL
Energy bucked the trend, slipping 0.4 percent.
    Gold miner Newcrest Mining rose 0.9 percent.
    Severe tropical storm Cyclone Narelle strengthened into a
category 4 storm, shutting ports handling a fifth of the world's
globally traded iron ore and cut supplies of natural gas and oil
on Friday. 
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.3
percent to 4,131.8, a fresh 5-year closing high.
    

 (Reporting By Thuy Ong; Editing by)