Australia Stocks Recover to Finish Steady; Logs Big Weekly Decline

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian shares ended flat Friday, capping its biggest weekly decline since late October as the local market failed to find its footing after being dragged down by oil-and-gas and financial stocks.

Continue Reading Below

"Worries about the economy weighed particularly on consumer stocks and lower oil prices weighed on energy shares," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital in Sydney.

The S&P/ASX 200 edged up 1.2 points to 5677.8 on Friday, holding steady for much of the session after an initial sharp drop in the wake of exit polls that suggested a closer-than-anticipated election result in the U.K. The prospect of a hung parliament in the U.K. is a blow for Prime Minister Theresa May and increases the uncertainty over Britain's exit from the European Union, but is unlikely to have a significant effect on broader global markets, CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said.

Energy stocks led broad weakness, as oil prices struggled to rise in Asian trading, facing pressure from a rising dollar and concerns about the effectiveness of the continuing effort by Middle Eastern and Russian producers to reduce global oversupply.

The major banks were mixed after investors showed some signs of renewed interest. Banking shares had been falling steadily since early May on concerns about the housing market, the prospect the industry regulator will demand greater capital buffers and the addition of a new tax on their liabilities.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking each rose 0.2%, while National Australia Bank fell 0.8% and Australia & New Zealand Banking lost 0.5%. Investment bank and asset manager Macquarie was 0.7% weaker.

Continue Reading Below

Among oil shares, Woodside Petroleum was 1% lower, Oil Search declined 1.2% and Santos dropped 3.7%. UBS dampened sentiment further, trimming its targets on energy shares to reflect a reduced oil-price forecast.

Diversified mining companies BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto gained 1.2% and 1.3%, respectively, and Fortescue Metals Group added 3%.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 09, 2017 04:10 ET (08:10 GMT)