Australia stocks edged lower in an unremarkable start to the Wednesday session, as the big banks again led the action, and as investors awaited the latest read on Australian economic growth. The S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.3%, extending the 0.4% loss in the previous session after the central bank confounded the expectations of some analysts by keeping its benchmark interest rate unchanged. The "Big Four" banks were all lower, with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group down 0.3%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp. down 0.6% each, and National Australia Bank Ltd. down 0.7%. Investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd. was on a temporary trading halt after announcing the US$4 billion purchase of a fleet of aircraft for leasing, funded in part by a planned capital raising of just under US$400 million. The market's other key sector, mining, also saw broad losses: BHP Billiton Ltd. dropped 0.6%, Independence Group NL lost 1.1%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. fell 1.7%, Oz Minerals Ltd. retreated 1%, and Rio Tinto Ltd. gave up 2.8% as its shares traded ex-dividend. Among the gainers, meanwhile, Brambles Ltd. and Treasury Wine Estates Ltd. improved by 1.1% each, Medibank Private Ltd. added 1.4%, and gains for energy prices boosted Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. by 1.1% and Santos Ltd. by 0.9%. Australia was due to release its fourth-quarter gross domestic product later in the morning.
Copyright © 2015 MarketWatch, Inc.
Continue Reading Below