Australian Stocks Turn Lower, With Resource Shares Weak

By Michael KitchenMarketWatch Pulse

Australia stocks took a turn for the worse in early Friday trading, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 1.1% a half-hour into the session, wiping out most of the benchmark's 1.4% gain the day before. Resource names fell broadly, tripping over weaker commodity prices, including a significant pullback for iron ore (sending Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 3.8% and Arrium Ltd. down 5.6%) and Comex gold's third day of losses (sending Newcrest Mining Ltd. down 1.9% and St. Barbara Ltd. down 2.5%). Likewise, with Nymex and Brent crude-oil futures both in retreat during early Sydney trade, Oil Search Ltd. lost 1.8%, WorleyParsons Ltd. dropped 1.5% and Santos Ltd. surrendered 2.5%. However, Woodside Petroleum Ltd. sat little changed, possibly buoyed by Credit Suisse's upgrade of its shares to outperform from neutral. Meanwhile, Qantas Airways Ltd. traded 2% lower after announcing it would spend roughly $70 million on one-time bonus payments to most of its workforce, which had been under a pay freeze since early 2014.

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