Australia Stocks Drop, With Banks, Retailers Weaker

MarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks slid in early Tuesday trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 1% to its lowest level since February, although this time, the miners were strong while much of the rest of the market weakened. Banks fell significantly ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia meeting decision -- analysts expected no change to interest rates, but an alteration to some of the central bank's language was considered possible. Westpac Banking Corp. lost 2%, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group fell 1.9%, and National Australia Bank Ltd. suffered a 2.3% drop. With data out ahead of the open showing a drop in Australian consumer confidence, retailers also headed lower, with Myer Holdings Ltd. and Woolworths Ltd. down 1.5% each, JB Hi-Fi Ltd. off 2.4%, and Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. losing 2.8%. On the other hand, a falling dollar helped to boost many commodity prices overnight, supporting mining shares. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. rose 2.1%, Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. rallied 4.7%, and BHP Billiton Ltd. tacked on 0.6%. Shares of Rio Tinto Ltd. climbed 4.4% after the mining major disclosed that Glencore PLC had offered to buy the corporation in July, though Rio turned down the offer, and there have been no talks since.

Copyright © 2014 MarketWatch, Inc.

Continue Reading Below