Jan 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Wednesday, after
hitting a near five-month high during the session, as weakness
in technology stocks overshadowed gains from financial and
The S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose as much as 0.4%,
was down 0.1 at 7580.6 by 0007 GMT. The benchmark had settled 2%
higher on Tuesday, the strongest closing level since mid-August.
The technology sub-index tracked overnight losses on
the Nasdaq and fell as much as 2.3%, their biggest
single-day loss since mid-December.
Buy now, pay later giant Afterpay dropped as much
as 4.9% to hit its lowest since October 2020. EML Payments
and Altium were down 1.5% and 1.8%,
Financials rose as much as 0.9% to hit their highest
since Nov. 17, driven by the so-called "Big Four" banks.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia
Bank and Westpac Banking Corp added between
0.5% and 0.9%, while Macquarie Group rose as much as
2.5% to hit a record high.
Miners advanced as much as 0.9%, scaling their
highest since August last year, as iron ore prices rose on
improved demand prospects in top steel producer China.
Rio Tinto and BHP Group added 0.4% and
0.7%, respectively, while Sims Ltd jumped 3.3%.
Healthcare stocks fell 1.2%, with biotechnology
giant CSL Ltd falling 0.8%.
Coal stocks extended gains, as China's thermal coal futures
surged on concerns of supply disruptions after Indonesia, its
biggest overseas supplier, banned exports.
Whitehaven Coal and Yancoal Australia rose
1.1% and 1.8%, respectively.
Meanwhile, Australia reported 47,799 new infections on
Tueday, up nearly a third from Monday's number which was also a
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index, which rose
as much as 0.7% to hit its highest since Oct. 26, 2021, pared
gains to trade 0.3% higher.
Financials and healthcare stocks were the gainers on the
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; editing by