January 11, 2019 / 1:24 AM / 13 days ago

Aussie shares flat as investors eye Sino-U.S. trade deal, NZ up

* Investors on the lookout for more details on trade talks

* Miners lead losses as commodity prices weigh

* Treasury Wine surges on higher than expected H1 earnings

By Shriya Ramakrishnan

Jan 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares made a tepid start on Friday as investors took a wait-and-see approach on the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks given a lack of detail, with materials stocks posting losses on lower commodities prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.1 percent, or 5.10 points, to 5,800.40 by 0052 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Thursday and is on track for a 3.2 percent weekly gain after a solid performance all week.

China’s commerce ministry said trade talks with the United States in Beijing were extensive and helped to establish a “foundation” to resolve differences, but offered few details on key issues at stake. These include a scheduled U.S. tariff increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The months-long trade spat between the world’s two largest economies has disrupted the flow of billions of dollars of goods, hurt the Chinese economy and stoked global growth concerns.

“Although the rhetoric of the U.S.-China trade talks was positive, we have seen few concrete developments or statements,” Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut said.

“We’ve seen some positive comments from China on adding stimulus to the market in terms of tax and easing banking restrictions which is hopefully positive. But I think investors are happy to stay on the sidelines and see if developments unleash,” he added.

Mining stocks, which are highly exposed to the Chinese market, fell about 1 percent, as an overnight fall in copper and iron ore prices dented their appeal.

Global mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto lost as much as 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, safe-haven gold stocks dropped 2.2 percent and were on track to snap two sessions of gains, hurt by a slip in the price of the bullion.

Newcrest Mining and St Barbara pulled down the sub-index, falling between 0.8 percent and 4.2 percent.

Energy stocks rose 0.5 percent and were poised for a seventh session of gains, as the sub-index benefited from continued strength in crude oil prices.

Sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum firmed 0.4 percent, while fuel refiner Caltex Australia gained 1.4 percent.

Among other blue-chips, Treasury Wine Estates, the world’s biggest-listed winemaker, saw its best day in over two years as it jumped as much as 8.1 percent after flagging higher than expected pre-tax profit for the first-half.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent or 46.07 points to 8,965.23.

Financials and healthcare stocks led gains, with real estate developer Goodman Property Trust rising 0.3 percent, while dairy company A2 Milk Company strengthened 1.1 percent.

Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin

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