Australia Stocks Rise Despite Weakness In Banks

MarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks trudged higher in early Monday moves, with strength in some of the top energy and mining names overcoming weakness in the big banks. The S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3% about an hour into the trading day, rising the face of significant losses for shares of the top banks, which hold a large weighting in the benchmark index. Westpac Banking Corp. led the sector lower, dropping 3.4% after posting a fall in cash earnings, missing analysts' consensus forecast as reported by The Wall Street Journal. This in turn dragged on the other members of the "Big Four": Australia & New Zealand Banking Group lost 1.5%, National Australia Bank Ltd. fell 1.2%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia retreated 0.9%. On the upside, however, top miner BHP Billiton Ltd. rallied 2.1% ahead of its shareholder vote due later this week on spinning off some of its non-core assets into a new company. Rival Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 1.9%, while Whitehaven Coal Ltd. added 2.8%, and gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd. and Evolution Mining Ltd. improved by 1.5% and 2%, respectively. Energy stocks also outperformed, emboldened by Brent North Sea crude-oil futures holding strong above the $66-a-barrel level. Among the big names, Woodside Petroleum Ltd. rose 0.9%, Santos Ltd. traded 1.4% higher, and Caltex Australia Ltd. gained 1.1%. However, energy-services major WorleyParsons Ltd. plunged 9.6% after announcing an almost $100 million writedown for the current fiscal year, as well as plans to cut thousands of jobs.

Copyright © 2015 MarketWatch, Inc.

Continue Reading Below