July 8, 2019 / 2:22 AM / 2 months ago

Australian shares see biggest intraday fall in 5 weeks

* Aussie shares see sharpest fall in five weeks

* Market focus to shift to Fed chairman’s testimony

* Miners, banks lead declines

By Aditya Soni

July 8 (Reuters) - Australian shares saw their worst session in five weeks on Monday as strong U.S. jobs data tempered expectations for a Federal Reserve rate cut later this month.

Broad-based losses pushed the S&P/ASX 200 index about 1% or 63.9 points lower in thin trading to 6,687.4 by 0152 GMT, the biggest intraday decline since June 3.

The benchmark gained 0.5% on Friday.

Expectations for a U.S. monetary policy easing had risen after a raft of weak economic data, but Friday’s better than expected non-farm payrolls figures showed that world’s largest economy’s labour market remained solid.

The employment report “leaves us comfortable with the view that the Fed will not cut in July and wait until September to deliver the first rate reduction,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists said in a note.

Investors will focus later this week on Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s semi-annual testimony to Congress on the economy for clues about the direction of central bank policy.

Mining stocks weakened to a near three-week low and accounted for most of the losses on the benchmark.

Australia’s biggest listed company BHP Group saw its worst day in over a week, while its rival Rio Tinto slipped to a two-week low.

Gold miners were also under pressure as bullion fell in the face of a stronger dollar supported by Friday’s jobs data.

Newcrest Mining Ltd dropped 1.4%, while St Barbara Ltd posted its biggest decline in one week.

Financials also sold off, with the country’s “Big Four” banks sliding between 0.9% to 1.1%.

Credit Suisse joined other brokerages in lowering its outlook for bank margins after the recent rate cut by Reserve Bank of Australia.

Healthcare stocks posted their sharpest fall in over two weeks, with drugmaker CSL Ltd down 1.5%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was little changed at 10,619.35.

Losses were concentrated in domestic-listed shares of Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Group.

Elsewhere, shares of a2 Milk Company Ltd rose 1.7% to near a five-week high. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; editing by Darren Schuettler)

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