Australia Stocks Slouch, With BHP Lower After Output Report

By MarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks rolled lower early Wednesday, tracking losses for U.S. shares and on other Asian markets, with earnings and output reports taking center stage. The S&P/ASX 200 sat 0.9% lower about 40 minutes into trade, with BHP Billiton Ltd. down 0.7% to slightly outperform the benchmark after posting better-than-expected iron-ore production for the first half but also warning of new impairment charges of up to $650 million. Shares of South32 Ltd. , recently spun off from BHP, fell 1.2% as the market weighed its quarterly output report and news he company was reviewing the fair value of its assets, according to Dow Jones Newswires. On the other hand, some iron-ore miners managed to extend gains, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. up 2% and Arrium Ltd. rising 1.9%. Elsewhere on the market, construction-materials company Boral Ltd. rose 2.3% on upbeat guidance for the fiscal year ended in June, and energy name Caltex Australia Ltd. lost 1.9% after Bell Potter downgraded the shares to hold from buy, despite lifting its price target.

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