LOS ANGELES – Australia stocks dipped lower early Thursday, with the S&P/ASX 200 falling 0.4% to 5,300.50. Among the major decliners, Insurance Australia Group Ltd. lost 2.3% after cutting its outlook for the fiscal year's gross written premium growth, even as it raised its insurance margin guidance. Rival Suncorp Group Ltd. tracked the loss, dropping 2.2%. Overall, financials traded mostly lower as the previous day's stronger-than-expected inflation data lowered the odds of another rate cut. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group lost 0.3%, Westpac Banking Corp. declined by 0.5%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia edged 0.2% lower. On the other hand, Macquarie Group Ltd. rose 1.2% as Citi raised its rating on the shares to buy from neutral. Miners were mixed as iron-ore halted its decline overnight, according to Rivkin, with Rio Tinto Ltd. up 0.3% and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. adding 0.8%, but BHP Billiton Ltd. retreating 0.8%. Gold miners were broadly lower, with Evolution Mining Ltd. off 1.6%, and Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. down 1.7%, Newcrest Mining Ltd. rallied 3.4% after reporting rising production and further cost cutting. And Transurban Group improved by 1% after UBS added the stock to its model portfolio, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
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