Australia Stocks Weaker As Bank Shares Fall

MarketWatch Pulse

Australia stocks deflated in early Monday trading, as weakness in the financials outweighed strength in the miners. The S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.2%, erasing Friday's 0.2% gain. The big banks all retreated, with the Australian Financial Review citing worries about tighter regulation amid a government review of the sector, led by former banker David Murray. About 45 minutes into trading, National Australia Bank Ltd. was down 0.7%, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group was 0.8% lower, Westpac Banking Corp. was weaker by 0.6%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia was off 0.4%. Retailers were also broadly lower, with Myer Holdings Ltd. losing 1.4%, JB Hi-Fi Ltd. off 0.3%, and Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. retreating 1.1%, though Pacific Brands Ltd. rose 1% as a separate Australian Financial Review report said the company may sell off its shoes and licensed-brands division. Mining shares were generally firmer, tracking gains in commodity prices. Among them, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Oz Minerals Ltd. rose 1% each, Rio Tinto Ltd. added 0.7%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. climbed 3.8%, Newcrest Mining Ltd. improved by 3.4%, and Atlas Iron Ltd. rallied 8.3%.

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