Australian shares slipped after early gains with the S&P ASX200 closing down 7.9 points, or 0.15%, to 5,317 due to a dip on Wall Street and caution about China’s growth.
Wall Street had fallen for a third-straight session on Monday after data from the Institute for Supply Management showed its services index for December decelerated to 53% from 53.9% in November.
By the close the Dow Jones has lost 45 points to 16,425, while the S&P 500 eased 0.3% to 1,826.8. The NASDAQ gave up 18 points to 4114.
The U.S. has also confirmed Janet Yellen as the next chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Chinese steel futures fell for a second straight session to hit their lowest in nearly seven months on seasonally tepid demand.
Meanwhile, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed the local trade deficit fell to $118 million, seasonally adjusted, in November from a revised $358 million gap in October. The result beat consensus economist forecasts for a deficit of $300 million. Exports were flat in November, while imports were down 1 per cent.
Financial stocks were mixed with three of the four major banks in negative territory.
Westpac (ASX: WBC) dipped $0.04, or 0.13%, to $32.08, ANZ Bank (ASX: ANZ) slid $0.13, or 0.41%, to $31.86 while National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) was down $0.05, or 0.15%, to $34.50.
Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) put on $0.12, or 0.16%, to $77.72.
Second tier banks performed better with Suncorp (ASX: SUN) unchanged at $13.05, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (ASX: BEN) climbing $0.01, or 0.09%, to $11.82 while Bank of Queensland (ASX: BOQ) was also unchanged at $12.28.
Investment bank Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG) shed $0.79, or 1.43%, to $54.35.
Yield-play Telstra (ASX: TLS) gained $0.01, or 0.19%, to $5.28.
Miners were the biggest losers with the Materials index down 1% to 10,055.3 points.
BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) slid $0.35, or 0.93%, to $37.21 while Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) slumped $1.75, or 2.58%, to $66.
Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) dived $0.27, or 4.73%, to $5.44 while Newcrest (ASX: NCM) slipped $0.04, or 0.46%, to $8.58.
The discovery of a new lode with bonanza gold grades at the Lobo Prospect of its Batangas Project in the Philippines sent Red Mountain Mining (ASX: RMX) up 75% to $0.007.
Notably, the find indicates that a series of high grade gold shoots could occur for at least 500 metres under shallow limestone.
TZ Limited (ASX: TZL) gained 8% to $0.135 after its integration partner FBA Italy won a tender to supply Italian postal service Poste Italiane with its Smart Parcel Locker requirements for an initial pilot program.
Kogi Iron (ASX: KFE) rose 5% to $0.105 after it completed a key environmental and social impact study that found that there are no environmental or social impediments for the development of its Agbaja iron project.
Asian stocks dipped today with the Nikkei dropping 0.55% to 15,821.99 points.
The Hang Seng Index gained 0.1% to 22,706.28 points while the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is down 0.21% to 2,041.39 points.
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