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Markets

Australia shares edge lower as US-China worries resurface

  • The country's largest telecom firm Telstra Corp rose to a six-month peak after brokerage Jefferies lifted its price target on the company's stock.
Published February 12, 2021

Australian shares slipped on Friday, weighed by energy and gold stocks, as US President Joe Biden's comments on China stoked worries that relations between the two nations could sour further.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3% to 6,828.90 by 0057 GMT, and was set to mark a weekly loss. The benchmark slipped 0.1% on Thursday.

Appetite for risky assets declined after Biden warned China was poised to "eat our lunch," following the US President's first phone call as leader with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping overnight.

During the call, both appeared at odds on most issues.

In Australia, the gold index was the top percentage loser, falling as much as 1.4% on lower bullion prices.

Westgold Resources shed over 3% to hit its lowest since August 2020 and was among the top losers on the Australian benchmark. Dacian Gold fell over 5% to a near six-week low.

The energy sub-index declined 1.2% to its lowest since Feb. 2, as oil prices ended a record streak of gains.

Beach Energy lost about 2%. Oil Search tumbled nearly 3% and is set for its worst session this month.

The broader mining sector was on track for its biggest percentage loss since Feb. 3, with BHP Group shedding about 2% and Rio Tinto slipping nearly 1%.

In a bright spot, the telecommunications sector advanced 1.3% to its highest since Aug. 7, 2017.

The country's largest telecom firm Telstra Corp rose to a six-month peak after brokerage Jefferies lifted its price target on the company's stock.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.6% to 12,683.38, set to mark its third consecutive weekly loss.

Meridian Energy fell 3.8%, while Kathmandu Holdings lost over 4% after the travel equipment retailer reported its unaudited half-yearly trading results.

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