By Robb M. Stewart 
 

MELBOURNE, Australia--A further decline by Australian shares Friday amid broad selling dragged the market lower for the week, snapping two weeks of gains.

Weakness in base metals and a lackluster cue from Wall Street weighed on sentiment, with the materials sector proving a big drag for the day and the week.

Falling for a fifth session in the last six, the S&P/ASX 200 dropped 45.7 points, or 0.8%, to 5739.0--the sharpest drop since the end of January.

Copper prices fell for three days straight before stabilizing in Asian trade Friday, amid concerns about demand and high inventories in China. Iron-ore prices have also been under pressure this week after rebounding in recent months, with Chinese futures down sharply on Friday.

"Caution about the prospects of near-term stimulus has softened the outlook for demand growth in base metals. This change of attitude coincided with remarks from Chinese authorities on plans to develop a property tax, which could also soften demand growth for metals," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

For the day, diversified miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were 3% and 4.2% lower, respectively, while iron-ore producer Fortescue Metals Group was 3.4% weaker.

The materials subindex lost 2.1% on Friday and 4.1% for the week.

 

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 24, 2017 01:49 ET (06:49 GMT)

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