Australian stocks fall as gold, iron ore markets drop; NZ at record high

Australian stocks slipped on Monday as weaker iron ore futures put pressure on heavyweight miners, while gold stocks eased on a bout of profit taking.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 17.5 points or 0.3% to 6,789.8 by 0042 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.3 percent on Friday.

The broader market remained quiet ahead of a two-day break for Christmas starting on Wednesday, said Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut.

“Volumes and flow of news will remain thin across the week, ahead of the holidays,” he said.

The gold index fell as much as 2.1 percent, following a recent run of gains. Gold stocks, seen as a proxy investment for the safe-haven metal, rose 3.5 percent last week, logging their best weekly gain since late-September.

Top miner Newcrest Mining fell 1.8 percent, while Evolution Mining dropped 1 percent.

Shares of Northern Star Resources slipped 2.9 percent. The miner said it was aware of proceedings filed it in relation to a dispute over a joint venture agreement. It said the proceedings were not material and would be defended.

Elsewhere, big iron ore miners eased after a near 1 percent fall in Chinese iron ore futures on Friday.

The biggest stock on the Australian benchmark, BHP Group, fell 1.3 percent, while rival Rio Tinto, also fell by the same margin.

Australia’s No. 3 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group shed 1 percent.

Outside the main index, rare earths developer Arafura Resources rose nearly 8.1 percent after it said it struck a preliminary deal with a U.S. company for the latter to process its rare earths product.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent or 58.19 points to 11,540.48, hitting a record high. The index was poised to log a five-day winning streak.

New Zealand-listed shares of Restaurant Brands New Zealand rose 1.9 percent to hit a record high after the food retailer said it would buy 70 stores of KFC U.S. franchisee in Southern California.

A 0.9 percent gain by electricity retailer Meridian Energy and 0.7 percent climb by medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp also boosted the benchmark.

Source: Reuters