Australia stocks sagging early
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Australia shares nudged lower early Friday, with the S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) down 0.2% to erase the previous session's 0.2% gain, dragged by losses for European and U.S. equities on the back of a Portuguese financial crisis. Financials fell (Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ)(ANEWF) and National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB)(NAUBF) each down 0.3%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA)(CBAUF) down 0.4%, and Macquarie Group Ltd. (AU:MQG)(MCQEF) down 0.7%), and the top miners fared especially poorly (Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO)(RIO) down 1.2%, Oz Minerals Ltd. (AU:OZL)(OZMLF) down 1.1%, though BHP Billiton Ltd. (AU:BHP)(BHP) off just 0.1%). And while Atlas Iron Ltd. (AU:AGO) beat its production guidance, and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (AU:FMG)(FSUMF) missed its production guidance, both saw losses, with Atlas stock off 2.9% and Fortescue trading 1.6% lower. Among the gainers, Scentre Group (AU:SCG) rose 0.6% as Deutsche Bank initiated coverage with a buy rating, and Qantas Airways Ltd. (AU:QAN)(QUBSF) climbed 1.2% as a news report in The Australian trumpted success for the airline's Acquire loyalty-rewards program. Shares of Roc Oil Co. (AU:ROC) rallied 3.5% after the company said it had received a second takeover bid, and a bounce in gold prices sent Evolution Mining Ltd. (AU:EVN)(CAHPF) up 3%, and St. Barbara Ltd. (AU:SBM) up 6%.
-Michael Kitchen; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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