Australia Stocks Weaker, But South32 Rebounds

MarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks crawled lower in early Tuesday trading, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% as financials sat mostly weaker ahead of Reserve Bank of Australia policy-meeting minutes due out later in the morning. Among the banks, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group lost 0.8%, and National Australia Bank Ltd. fell 1.2%, though Westpac Banking Corp. bucked the trend to rise 0.6%, possibly helped by UBS upgrading the shares to buy from neutral. Among the large miners, Rio Tinto Ltd. fell 0.8%, failing to get a bump from news it had reached a deal with Mongolia over the Oyu Tolgoi mining project. BHP Billiton Ltd. was down 1.4%, coinciding with J.P. Morgan cutting its price target on the shares, to extend heavy losses the previous day driven by the spin-off of South32 Ltd. But shares of South32 itself rallied 11.7% on its second day of trading after losing ground at their debut. Energy shares followed oil prices lower, with Beach Energy Ltd. down 2.5%, Woodside Petroleum Ltd. and Oil Search Ltd. down 1% each, and Santos Ltd. off 1.5%. Shares of fertilizer and explosives maker Incitec Pivot Ltd. lost 2% as the stock went ex-dividend.

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