Australia Stocks Soften With Oil, Mining Shares Weak

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Australian stocks lost some more ground as the new week began, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5% early Monday, as energy shares and most miners led the broader market lower. As energy prices weakened, with Brent North Sea crude back below the $54-a-barrel level, Sydney-listed oil and gas names followed suit, with Woodside Petroleum Ltd. down 2.2%, Oil Search Ltd. down 4.2% and Beach Energy Ltd. down 3.3%. Other resource shares also moved lower, including BHP Billiton Ltd. (down 1.7%), Whitehaven Coal Ltd. (down 3.2%) and Rio Tinto Ltd. (down 0.8%). Shares of Sandfire Resources sat 1.8% weaker, but well off their early lows of the session, after Oz Minerals Ltd. (trading down 2.5%) sold off its 19% stake in the copper miner for a small discount to their previous closing price. On the other hand, a mild improvement for iron-ore prices helped Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. add 1.5%, while Arrium Ltd. gained 2.8%, and gold miners followed improvement for gold futures to gains of their own, with Newcrest Mining Ltd. up 0.4%, while Perseus Mining Ltd. rallied 3.9%. Among other notable movers, construction-contracting company Leighton Holdings Ltd. dropped 4.6% as the shares traded without rights to the latest dividend.

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