Australian shares post biggest falls in seven months; NZ down

(Updates to close)

June 30 (Reuters) – Australian shares fell sharply on
Friday, recording their biggest percentage fall since November
2016, following Wall Street’s slump overnight.

It was the Australian market’s first quarterly loss in five
quarters after a broad based sell-off.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 1.7 percent, or 96.60
points lower, at 5,721.50. The benchmark ended 1.1 percent
higher on Thursday.

Wall Street fell sharply on Thursday, with the S&P 500 and
the Dow industrials suffering their worst daily percentage drop
in about six weeks, as a recent decline in technology shares

Financials ended the day 1.4 percent lower. Despite
the losses, the financial index rose 1.6 percent this month,
recording its fourth monthly gain in five months.

The “Big Four” lenders closed between 1 percent and 1.5
percent lower.

BT Investment Management Ltd was the second-biggest
loser on the benchmark, ending down 7.7 percent.

Materials stocks were among the biggest drag despite gains
in commodity prices.

South32 Ltd slid 2.9 percent while Newcrest Mining
Ltd dropped 2.8 percent.

Real-estate was another major drag on the index with
Cromwell Property Group falling 3.1 percent to its
lowest close since May 19.

Among other stocks, Mineral Resources Ltd ended 8.5
percent higher and Metcash Ltd advanced 2.1 percent to
be the top gainers on the benchmark. Fairfax Media Ltd
had the worst loss, declining 8.3 percent.

Australian shares are expected to creep up over the
remainder of the year but remain short of the 6,000-point mark,
a Reuters poll found.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 1
percent or 74.01 points lower to finish the session at 7,611.44.
The benchmark rose 5.8 percent this quarter recording a sixth
quarterly gain in seven.

Telecom stocks led the broad-based losses, with Spark New
Zealand Ltd shedding 3.2 percent.

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