April 26, 2019 / 1:31 AM / 3 months ago

Australian shares set for best week since Feb; NZ down

April 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower in light trade on Friday as investors sold financials, but the benchmark index looked set for its best weekly performance since February.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 percent to 6,369.20 points by 0051 GMT, but was on track to gain 1.7 percent in the holiday-shortened week.

Financials, the benchmark’s biggest constituents, dropped 0.4 percent. Next week marks the start of earnings from the major Aussie banks.

Macquarie Group, which is scheduled to report annual results on May 3, fell as much as 2.2 to its lowest level in over a week.

Scandal-hit AMP Ltd fell 2.6 percent, and will report quarterly cash flow numbers next Thursday.

“Going into the earnings releases of banks there is definitely a lot of uncertainty which is something that investors are cautious of,” said Tumul Sinha, an equities research analyst at ASR Wealth Advisers.

Elsewhere, the world’s no. 4 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group lost about 4 percent, its lowest level since the start of the month.

China’s steel futures ended lower for the third straight session on Thursday, as market were cautious on steel demand amid slowing de-stocking process by traders.

Investors are awaiting data later in the day that may show the U.S. economy is outperforming the rest of the developed world.

Flight Centre Travel Group tumbled about 13 percent, after it cut its profit guidance for the year due to challenging situation in the Australian leisure market.

Flight Centre, which is at its worst one-day loss since November 2016, said it now expects underlying profit before tax for the 2019 financial year to be between A$335 million ($235.1 million) and A$360 million, below the $390 million to $420 million range it initially targeted.

Bellamy’s Australia, which surged nearly 16 percent on Wednesday after it won approval to sell some products in Chinese stores, fell 4.5 percent on Friday as investors too profits.

The gold index jumped over 2 percent, with Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining up 3.1 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Gold prices rose to their highest in more than a week as global equities pull back, with demand for riskier assets cooling.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was also weaker, falling 0.3 percent to 10,041.51. It looked set to gain 0.8 percent for the week.

Pushpay Holdings fell 3.7 percent, and was the top percentage loser on the index.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Niyati Shetty; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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