Feb 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares were little changed on Friday on a lack of conviction after an unspiring performance on Wall Street, with lingering anxiety over U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive posture on trade and international relations checking sentiment.
U.S. stocks ended little changed on Thursday after Trump said he would like to speed up talks to either renegotiate or replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
Trump’s policy priorities, especially those on restricting immigration and rewriting trade deals, have jolted global markets in recent weeks and sharply curtailed risk appetite.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up a touch by 0.1 percent or 5.866 points to 5651.3 around 0116 GMT. The benchmark ended 0.14 percent lower on Thursday.
While investors will look to U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due later in the global day for clues on Federal Reserve policy outlook, Tony Farnham, an economist at Patersons Securities, said: “Markets are not getting too excited ahead of the U.S jobs data tonight.”
At home, while falls in materials and energy stocks hampered the market, James Hardie, the world’s biggest maker of fibre cement home panelling took a hammering after a profit-warning.
It was the worst performer on the main index, slumping 3.8 percent to its lowest in over two months and marked the biggest loss for the stock in over nine months after reporting a 6 percent fall in third-quarter profit and lowered its full-year profit guidance.
The metals and mining index fell 0.8 percent on profit-taking after two sessions of gains.
Top miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were down over 1 percent each while Fortescue Metals lost 2.5 percent.
The materials index dropped 0.9 percent.
Gold stocks, however, gained following a 11-week high in gold prices on growing concerns of uncertainty after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest statement gave no clear signal on when its next rate hike would come.
OceanaGold was the biggest gainer on the gold index , soaring 11.2 percent for its biggest percentage gain in more than 7 months.
The energy index took a breather from its rally in the previous session, falling 0.4 percent as oil prices edged lower on Thursday after investors downplayed the tensions between the United States and Iran.
Woodside Petroleum slipped 1.1 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.45 percent or 32.31 points to 7085.85 with healthcare, telecom and utility stocks leading the gains.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare added 2.1 percent while Genesis Energy rose 1.4 percent.
Reporting by Christina Martin; Additional reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam