Australian stocks moved decisively to the downside early Monday, with gains for some major miners unable to offset losses from financials and energy names. The S&P/ASX 200 sat 1% lower at 5,136.90, extending a more-than-2% plunge on Friday, though the market held the potential to move signficantly on Chinese trade data due out later in the day. Given a Friday pullback for U.S. shares that followed the rout in Sydney, Australian financials started the week with a deficit, as Macquarie Group Ltd. lost 1.6%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp. gave up 1% each, and Suncorp Group Ltd. retreated by 1.2%. Meanwhile, with both Nymex and Brent crude-oil futures off by more than 1% in electronic action, energy stocks saw a broad decline, with Oil Search Ltd. down 1.8%, Caltex Australia Ltd. down 1.7%, and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. down 1.1%, although Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. managed to hold at the flatline after updating shareholders on its latest buyback in a stock-repurchase program. Despite the easing oil price, shares of Qantas Airways Ltd. lost 2.1%, with the move coinciding with news that foreign ownership of the airline had risen to almost 48% as of mid-September, up from just below 45% in late August. Qantas, Australia's flag carrier, is forbidden by law to sell more than 49% of its stock to foreign interests. On the upside, some of the volatile gold-miner stocks rallied, as Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. added 1.5%, St. Barbara Ltd. improved by 3.9%, and Perseus Mining Ltd. added 3.5%. Likewise, iron-ore extractors saw some gains, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. up 0.5%, Atlas Iron Ltd. up 1.3%, and larger rival Rio Tinto Ltd. edging 0.1% higher, though BHP Billiton Ltd. headed lower by 0.5%. Shares of Stockland inched down 0.1%, reversing from an early gain, as the market digested news that the company had bought 50% of a Queensland shopping mall -- Sugarland Shoppingtown in Bundaberg -- for just over $51 million.
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