Australia shares edge up as Metcash jumps; NZ steady

By Sindhu Chandrasekaran

June 26 (Reuters) – Australian shares edged up on Monday
with the consumer staples sector climbing after Metcash Ltd
reported a rise in underlying annual profit, but
financial stocks struggled to remain positive amid continuing
concerns over bank taxes.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2 percent or 10.13
points to 5,726.00 by 0327 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.2 percent
higher on Friday.

Consumer non-cyclicals gained the most with Metcash Ltd
jumping as much as 9.1 percent to its highest in nearly
three months.

Metcash posted its biggest intraday percentage gain in 10
months after reporting a 9.3 percent rise in underlying annual
profit and announcing plans to resume dividend payments.

Retailers Woolworths Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd
were among the top gainers rising 1.2 percent and 0.9
percent respectively.

In other stocks, miners were on track to record a
third session of gains on the back of oil and gold prices which
rose on Friday helped by a weaker dollar.

South32 Ltd climbed 1.4 percent while Rio Tinto Ltd
added 0.9 percent.

The financial sector drifted as concerns over the
federal government’s proposed bank levy and some states’
interest in adding levies of their own persisted.

Australia’s decision to impose a A$6.2 billion tax on the
five biggest banks has created uncertainty among global
investors who no longer see the country as a stable investment
destination, according to the chief executive of National
Australia Bank.

National Australia Bank Ltd and Westpac Banking
Corp shed 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent while
Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group Ltd gained marginally.

A second Australian state on Friday said it was open to
charging its own bank tax.

Insurer QBE was the biggest loser on the benchmark after it
shed 2.5 percent to its lowest in over six months, while
retirement community developer/operator Aveo Group
slumped to its lowest in nearly 2 years.

Aveo fell as much as 10.5 percent after media reports of
alleged customer exploitation.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.5
percent or 35.14 points to 7,588.78.

Telecommunications stocks led the gains on the index with
Spark New Zealand Ltd rising 2.1 percent.

Consumer discretionary was in the red after SKY Network
Television Ltd fell as much as 5 percent to its lowest
in over eight years.

The pay television provider terminated a sales agreement to
buy Vodafone’s local unit.

For more individual stocks activity click on

(Reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran in Bengaluru; Editing by
Eric Meijer)

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