December 6, 2017 / 1:17 AM / 10 months ago

Australian shares fall as materials stocks weigh; NZ declines

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Materials stocks led Australian shares lower on Wednesday tracking lower base metal prices and a choppy Wall Street, as investors awaited third quarter economic growth data.

Australia’s real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.6 percent on-quarter and 2.8 percent on-year, official data showed, falling short of the expected annual 3 percent, and 0.7 percent sen in the previous quarter.

Wall Street ended Tuesday lower with all three of its indices in the red, while falling copper, iron ore and gold prices hit materials stocks.

“I think we had a bit of a setback in the U.S. markets overnight so to some extent we are following that lead in Australia,” said Damien Hennessy Co-founder of Heuristic Investment Systems

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell for a third session, down 13.12 points, or 0.22 percent, to 5,958.8 by 0027 GMT, ahead of the GDP data. The benchmark ended the previous session down 0.2 percent.

Hennessy added that if GDP came in as expected or even below then it would strengthen the case for no changes to interest rates for some time.

The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday left its cash rate unchanged at 1.5 percent, as expected, adding that it expects inflation to pick up gradually.

BHP Billiton fell 1.4 percent, followed by South32 and Rio Tinto losing 2.8 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, pulling down the index.

Explosives maker Incitec Pivot fell as much as 4 percent after it said will cease to supply BHP Billiton with explosives raw materials when its current contract expires, which it said would affect its 2020 and 2021 profits.

Gold stocks were also negative with Newcrest Mining shedding 1.5 percent as a rebound in the dollar saw gold hitting a two-month low.

Some recovery in momentum of oil prices failed to cheer up local energy stocks with the energy index down 0.8 percent as Woodside Petroleum shed as much as 0.7 percent.

n the other hand, the ‘Big four’ banks were back in positive territory, gaining between 0.1 percent and 0.9 percent, shrugging off the pressure that controversy over a large-scale government investigation into the financial services sector had put on the stocks in the past few sessions.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent, or 13.99 points to 8,162.22.

Consumer and healthcare stocks led the losses with SkyCity Entertainment and Ryman Healthcare each shedding mor than 1 percent.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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