February 9, 2018 / 1:31 AM / in a year

Aussie shares ravaged; NZ on track for worst week in nearly 8 yrs

* Australian shares on track for worst week in more than two years

* New Zealand shares drop to near 3-month low

By Ambar Warrick

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Australian shares tracked Wall Street’s big overnight falls on Friday, dropping to near their lowest in four months as volatility and attractive bond yields continued to ravage equities across the globe.

U.S. stocks fell around 4 percent on Thursday in another dramatic session, confirming a correction that has thrown the market’s near 9-year bull run off course.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.5 percent to 5,803.2 points by 0053 GMT after rising 0.2 percent on Thursday. The ASX 200 was on track for its worst week since January 2016.

Australian stocks have all but relinquished their 2018 gains over the past week. They had crested a 10-year peak at the start of the year, a level last seen in 2008.

The benchmark had shed nearly 3 percent this year by Thursday’s close.

Financials were the largest drags on the index, as the Australian financial index shed as much as 1.6 percent to a near five-month low.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Westpac Banking Corp weighed heaviest on the financials index, pulling it down a total of 25 points.

Materials stocks, particularly miners, also dragged down the index. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, was among the biggest burdens on the Australian benchmark, pulling it down about 4.1 points. The stock fell about 1 percent, dragging heavily on the metals and mining index as well.

Further driving the drop in materials were commodity prices, with copper and aluminium hitting multi-week lows after a rise in inventories pointed to markets maintaining plentiful supply.

Healthcare stocks also took a beating, with biotherapeutics developer CSL Ltd dropping more than 2 percent. The falling stock took about 5 points off the Australian benchmark.

Over in New Zealand, broad based losses dragged the benchmark to a near three-month low. The index was on track for its worst week since May 2010.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1.3 percent or 105.08 points to 8,072.06.

Healthcare stocks led declines, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp shedding about 2 percent, closely followed by industrial stocks. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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