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Australia, NZ: Shares end flat on cautious global backdrop

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended a touch lower on Tuesday as investors adopted a cautious stance after a weak Wall Street finish weighed on regional markets, with losses in the materials sector tugging on the main index.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.13 per cent, or 6.9 points, lower at 5,457.5, at the close of trade.

The "Big 4" banks supported the financial sector, inching up 0.1 per cent to 0.6 per cent.

Those gains were not enough to keep the market in the black as mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto dropped more than 1 per cent as iron ore retreated following the a pull-back in steel prices from a 31-month high.

Mineral sands explorer Iluka Resources Ltd slid as much as 3.7 per cent, after it hinted at a delay in its proposed £215 million-pound (S$382.6 million) takeover of Sierra Rutile Ltd.

Wall Street's losses on Monday and political woes in Italy kept risk appetite in check through much of Asia's trading session.

Telecommunications provider Vocus Communications Ltd plunged as much as 27.4 per cent to its biggest one-day loss in more than 15 years, after the company's earnings guidance disappointed investors New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.02 per cent, or 1.21 points lower to finish the session at 6,901.75.

Skincare company Trilogy International Limited, fell as much as 10 per cent, despite posting a 10 per cent jump in half-year profit, due to uncertainty regarding opportunities in China.

REUTERS