Australia stocks traded lower Thursday morning despite a positive open, with softness in the mining sector helping drive the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2%. While a further gain for spot iron-ore prices may have helped Arrium Ltd. rise 1.2%, the biggest resource names were broadly lower, with BHP Billiton Ltd. down 0.7%, Rio Tinto Ltd. and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 0.4% each, and South32 Ltd. falling 2.9% as Liberum Capital started its coverage of the miner's London shares with a sell rating. On the upside, however, Oz Minerals Ltd. rose 0.8%, and Sandfire Resources advanced 1.7%. Financials were also mostly in negative territory, as Westpac Banking Corp. lost 0.5%, National Australia Bank Ltd. slipped 0.4% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia gave up 0.6% even as Dow Jones Newswires quoted a Morgans technical analyst as saying CBA shares could see more upside. Meanwhile, BlueScope Steel Ltd. fell 3.4% after a CLSA ratings downgrade for the shares, also reported by Dow Jones. Among gainers, Qantas Airways Ltd. and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. rose 0.4% apiece in the face of falling energy prices.
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