Australia shares set to drop on global cues, weaker commodities
SYDNEY, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set for a weak start on Thursday, hurt by negative global sentiment, worries over Chinese shares and falling commodity prices. Copper slid to a six-year low on Wednesday below $5,000 a tonne while U.S. crude oil slumped over 4 percent to a 6-1/2 year low. Chinese iron ore futures slumped as much as 3 percent. The local share price index futures fell 0.9 percent, or 48 points, in overnight trading to sit at a 75.2-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index. The benchmark rallied 1.5 percent on Wednesday, having recovered from a seven-month trough touched on Tuesday. Qantas Airways reported a return to full-year profit on the back of a tough cost-cutting program and tailwinds from cheaper fuel costs. AMP posted a 3 pecent jump in half-year profit and lifted its interim dividend to 14 cents a share. Gold miners such as Newcrest Mining will also be in focus after the metal rallied to a one-month high. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was barely changed at 5,746.27 points in early trade. For a summary of overnight action across global markets, double click on For a digest of the day's business stories in Australian newspapers, double click on (Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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