Australia Stocks Dip On Some Weak Earnings, Drops For Oil, Gold

Some unfavorable earnings news and losses for key commodities helped to depress Australian stocks in early Monday trading, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% to extend Friday's 0.4% drop. On the earnings front, BlueScope Steel Ltd. tumbled almost 10% after posting strong profit growth but warning its margins would narrow due to a weak steel price. Health insurer NIB Holdings Ltd. retreated 2.7% after reporting a mild gain for the bottom line but tipping its full-year operating profit to come in at the lower end of its previously forecast range. On the other hand, Boart Longyear Ltd. jumped 7.5% after cutting its full-year loss to half of what it suffered in 2013, and property major Lend Lease Group added 0.6% to its share price as its six-month profit rose by 25%. Among the resource stocks, losses for crude-oil futures meant losses for Oil Search Ltd. (down 0.7%), Caltex Australia Ltd. (down 1.6%), and Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. (down 2.9% despite gains for natural-gas prices). Comex gold's move back to just above the $1,200-an-ounce level was also a weight on the relevent equities, as Newcrest Mining Ltd. fell 1.4%, and Perseus Mining Ltd. droped 4.2%. Among the top miners, BHP Billiton Ltd. eased 0.6% a day ahead of its earnings report, while Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 0.5%.

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