Australia Stocks Retreat Despite Some Good Earnings News
Australian stocks ducked down in early Thursday moves, as some scattered good news on the earnings front couldn't offset losses for the key mining and financial sectors. The S&P/ASX 200 deflated by 0.6% in the first half hour, with a drop for spot iron-ore prices tormenting the relevent miners, including Atlas Iron Ltd. (down 4%), Arrium Ltd. (down 2.2%), Mt. Gibson Iron Ltd. (down 3.2%) and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (down 0.8%). Other mining names were more mixed, with BHP Billiton Ltd. up 0.1%, Oz Minerals Ltd. up 0.3%, Independence Group NL down 1.1%, and Newcrest Mining Ltd. down 0.4%. Financials were also broadly weaker, as Macquarie Group Ltd. fell 0.9%, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 0.5% each, and Bank of Queensland Ltd. gave up 1.1% after announcing a writedown on its customer-relationship management system. Among those reporting earnings, Qantas Airways Ltd. rallied 3.4% after its pretax profit beat its previous guidance, as its international division returned to profit. Media company Nine Entertainment Co. Holdings surged 9.4% after its results, as the company announced a share buyback and kept its full-year outlook unchanged. But on the downside, Billabong International Ltd. fell 2.3% despite opening with solid gains after reporting a return to profit in the second half of 2014. Likewise, Sydney Airport lost 2.9% in the wake of its earnings.
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