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Markets

Australia shares fall as miners, health stocks weigh

  • Dragging energy stocks 0.9% lower, Origin Energy gave up 8.9% after slashing earnings forecasts for its energy markets segment.
04 Feb 2021

Australian shares were set to snap a three-day winning streak on Thursday as miners and healthcare stocks eased, while investors awaited more risk-supportive economic outlook from the central bank.

The Reserve Bank of Australia, which is slated to provide updated economic forecasts on Friday, earlier this week expanded its bond-buying programme and kept its cash rate near zero, even though the A$2 trillion economy has performed better than expected after largely controlling its COVID-19 outbreak.

"There's a reason why they're keeping stimulus for longer, it's because they fear that we've got a longer-term crawl out of pandemic-influenced markets," said Nick Twidale, chief executive officer of APAC at FP Markets.

"I think the market needs some concrete evidence that we're going to see some light at the end of the tunnel."

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to 6,799.6 by 0021 GMT.

Gold stocks lost as much as 1.7% to hit their lowest since May, after spot gold prices weakened overnight amid a steepening US Treasury yield curve and a jump in equities.

Heavyweight miners shrank 0.6% as Chinese iron ore futures eased on growing shipments from major suppliers and a drop-off in demand from top consumer China ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

Dragging energy stocks 0.9% lower, Origin Energy gave up 8.9% after slashing earnings forecasts for its energy markets segment.

Power supplier AGL Energy also put out a dim forecast for wholesale electricity prices and flagged a $2.1 billion charge in its half-year results, sending its shares down 7%.

A stronger Australian dollar pressured US-exposed healthcare stocks, which fell 0.9%, with industry giant CSL accounting for a bulk of the losses.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.4% to 13,035.31.