Australia Stocks Snap Two-Day Run Higher

By Robb M. StewartFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian shares retreated Friday, pulled lower by mining and energy companies and as major banks faltered after recent gains.

Equities were broadly lower across the Asia-Pacific region for the day.

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Snapping a run higher the last two days, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 38.7 points, or 0.7%, to settle at an almost two-week low of 5722.8.

For the week, the index was down 0.7%, leaving it flat so far in July.

After strengthening on Thursday following production updates from several oil and gas producers and with a rise in crude prices, the sector pulled back on the final day of the week after oil prices pulled back from a seven-week high overnight. The materials sector also weakened with falls in iron-ore and base metals prices.

Each of the big banks stumbled Friday, letting go of some of strong gains the last two days after the industry regulator's rules on capital targets proved less onerous than feared and gave the lenders until 2020 to boost capital ratios.

Woodside Petroleum was 1.6% weaker, Oil Search fell 1.2% and Santos slipped 0.3%.

Diversified miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lost 1.9% and 2%, respectively, while South32 and iron-ore producer Fortescue Metals Group each lost 2.5%.

National Australia Bank led its peers lower, falling 1.1%, while Westpac Banking dropped 0.9% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia was 0.7% lower. Australia & New Zealand Banking, which had led the major banks higher on Wednesday and Thursday, declined a more modest 0.5%.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 21, 2017 03:40 ET (07:40 GMT)