Australian Shares Lead Asian Equities Lower

Stocks in Australia fell on further weakness in iron ore but most other shares in the region were mostly little changed Thursday and the Shanghai market remained up nearly 4% so far this week amid more stimulus measures from Beijing.

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was down 0.7%, led lower by resources shares. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. fell 4.8%, while BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. lost 1.6% each. The move coincided with a Reuters survey showing expectations for further weakness in iron ore, with 2015 prices forecast to average $56 per metric ton, down from a previous projection of $68 a ton made in January.

Most other benchmarks in Asia Pacific were close to flat, continuing a recovery in the region from a selloff in European bonds that spread globally to a range of asset classes.  The Shanghai Composite Index and Hang Seng Index were both flat. The Hang Seng Index is down more than 1% this week, even after China’s central bank cut interest rates on Sunday for a third time in six months.