January 14, 2015 / 2:36 AM / 5 years ago

Australia shares struggle as copper dives, NZ shares up

(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Cecile Lefort and Naomi Tajitsu

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares struggled on Wednesday as commodity prices continued to skid on renewed concerns about the global economy.

Copper futures plunged 6.3 percent to the lowest since 2009 as major chart support cracked.

Not helping the mood was news the World Bank had cut its global growth forecasts because of sluggishness in the euro zone, Japan and some major emerging economies.

As a result, the S&P/ASX 200 index eased 0.2 percent or 8 points to 5,391.8 points by 0214 GMT. If sustained, it would be the third day of declines, taking this week’s losses to 1.3 percent.

Iron ore miners suffered the most following a slide in the ore’s spot price, with Fortescue Metals Group down 6.2 percent, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto dropped around 1.5 percent.

Banks also came under pressure, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Macquarie Group down 0.7 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group eased 0.4 percent.

Yet, the energy sector proved resilient following a 5 percent tumble in oil prices overnight. Santos rose 2.2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum gained 0.5 percent with the sector up around percent.

Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG Markets, said the rise followed a small bounce in oil prices in the Asian session.

“The medium-term view is still for lower oil prices,” he said.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX50 index rose 12.1 point or 0.2 percent to a lifetime intraday high of 5,648.94, boosted by a 2.7 percent rise in financial lender Heartland to a one-month high of NZ$1.16 ($1).

Heartland jumped after it said the Reserve Bank of New Zealand had reduced the capital requirements for its bank subsidiary in line with other New Zealand banks.

Retirement village operator Summerset climbed 2.5 percent to a near six-month high of NZ$3.18, extending gains after an announcement last week of a jump in sales raised expectations for strong earnings. (Editing by Kim Coghill)

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