Australian Stocks Little Changed on U.S. Concern

Australian stocks were little changed, with the benchmark index trading close to the highest level in 14 months, amid concern that a drop in the U.S. unemployment rate will reduce the length of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program.

Bank of Queensland Ltd. dropped 1.6 percent after Citigroup Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG cut their recommendation on shares of the lender. QR National Ltd. jumped 3.5 percent after Australia’s largest coal-train operator said it would buy back up to A$1 billion ($1 billion) of its own shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index slid 0.2 percent to 443.90 at 10:10 a.m. in Sydney. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped less than 0.1 percent to 4,490.70 . New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index retreated less than 0.1 percent in Wellington. Equity markets in Japan are closed today for holidays. Stock markets in China will reopen today after a weeklong holiday.

Friday’s U.S. jobs data “dampened the mood for equities,” said Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG Markets Ltd. in Melbourne, a provider of trading service for equities, bonds, currencies and commodities. “Creating a sustainable recovery in the jobs market is one of the core principals of the Fed’s quantitative easing program, and this positive data could mean QE won’t go on for as long as some hoped.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent today. The gauge closed little changed Oct. 5 after a Labor Department report showed the unemployment rate in the U.S. unexpectedly fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest level since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index was valued at 12.6 times estimated earnings on average through the end of last week, compared with 13.9 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.2 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks in the U.S. gained 0.5 percent to 93.11 at the end of last week.

(Corrects third paragraph to show only Japan markets closed today.)
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