Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.3 percent to 4,582.90 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. The gauge has climbed 4.1 percent this month and 6.5 percent over the past three months, the biggest quarterly increase in a year.
New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 1.5 percent to 3,178.09 at the 5 p.m. close in Wellington as home-building approvals in the nation slumped to a 13-month low and business confidence fell. The index advanced 4.7 percent this month and 6.9 percent over the quarter.
The following were among the most active shares in the market today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.
Financial stocks: Loans provided by Australian banks and finance companies rose 0.1 percent in August from the previous month, the Reserve Bank of Australia said in Sydney today. The median estimate of 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 0.3 percent increase.
National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB AU) dropped 2.2 percent to A$25.34. The business lender also had its stock rating cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts led by Jonathan Mott at UBS AG. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ AU) fell 1.9 percent to A$23.68.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd. (BEN AU) lost 1.4 percent to A$9.15. The Australian regional bank was downgraded to “neutral” from “outperform” at Credit Suisse Group AG.
Boral Ltd. (BLD AU) slumped 4.2 percent to A$4.61. Australia’s largest seller of building materials was downgraded to “underperform” from “neutral” at Macquarie Research.
Murchison Metals Ltd. (MMX AU) rose 1.5 percent to A$1.66. The Australian iron-ore developer said Mitsubishi Development Pty., a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp., reiterated its commitment to joint ventures projects in mining and infrastructure.
Telstra Corp. (TLS AU) declined 2.2 percent to A$2.62. Australia’s largest telephone company said it will fire workers as it attempts to simplify “customer processes.”
Fletcher Building Ltd. (FBU NZ), New Zealand’s largest supplier of building products fell 3.5 percent to NZ$8.06 and Michael Hill International Ltd. (MHI NZ), a jewelry retailer, lost 2.9 percent to 67 New Zealand cents.
New Zealand home-building approvals slumped to 17.8 percent in August from July, Statistics New Zealand said in Wellington today, citing seasonally adjusted figures. A separate report by ANZ National Bank Ltd. showed fewer New Zealand companies are optimistic about the economy and firms are scaling back hiring and investment intentions.