RIO

Australia shares decline on weak manufacturing survey, fading U.S. stimulus hopes

Credit: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY

Australian shares fell on Friday, weighed down by miners, as weak manufacturing survey data and waning hopes for a pre-election U.S. coronavirus relief package knocked investor sentiment.

Mining stocks fall 1%, gold stocks down 2.5%

BlueScope Steel surges 12%, tops benchmark index

Australia's Oct Mfg PMI below estimate - IHS Markit

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Friday, weighed down by miners, as weak manufacturing survey data and waning hopes for a pre-election U.S. coronavirus relief package knocked investor sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO slipped 0.3%, or 19.3 points, to 6,154 by 0112 GMT, after a 0.3% drop in the previous session.

A preliminary IHS Markit survey showed Australian manufacturing activity expanded in October at a weaker pace than last month and also missed estimates, as coronavirus-driven lockdowns in parts of the country continued to hamper economy recovery.

With the U.S. presidential election just around the corner, global equity markets have been volatile as U.S. lawmakers struggle to reach agreement on a coronavirus aid package.

Hopes of a deal were further dimmed when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had not spoken on Thursday.

In Australia, the metals and mining index .AXMM, the biggest constituent of the benchmark, slid 1%. Top iron ore miners Rio Tinto Ltd RIO.AX and BHP Group Ltd BHP.AX lost up to 1.4% each.

An overnight slump in bullion prices saw the gold sub-index .AXGD fall 2.5%. GOL/

Resolute Mining Ltd RSG.AX fell the most, sliding 4% after Citi trimmed its price target for the stock. Red 5 Ltd RED.AX was down 2.5%.

Tech stocks .AXIJ slipped 0.7%, with software maker WiseTech Global WTC.AX shedding 2.3%.

Mineral sands producer Iluka Resources ILU.AX plunged 46% as the stock traded on a demerger-basis after spun-off unit Deterra Royalties DRR.AX started trading on the stock exchange.

Among gainers, BlueScope Steel Ltd BSL.AX surged 12% in its biggest intraday percentage gain in four years on strong second-half outlook.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 fell 0.2% to 12,385.2, with IT services provider Serko Ltd SKO.NZ and Vista Group International Ltd VGL.NZ down about 2% each.

(Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

((Anushka.Trivedi@thomsonreuters.com; +918061823241;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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