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Australia, NZ: Shares sidle sideways, telecoms in demand

[SYDNEY] Australian shares dithered either side of flat on Tuesday with Wall Street offering no lead and bulls chastened by the repeated failure to break major chart resistance in the past week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was off 1.2 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 5,165.4 by 0130 GMT. Traders said the market was in consolidation mode after topping around 5,216 last week, but also has strong support around 5,088.

Telecoms was the biggest gaining sector with a jump of 1.9 per cent, led in large part by upbeat results from internet provider TPG Telecom.

TPG's stock added over 5 per cent after reporting a near 90 per cent jump in its first half net profit and a strong outlook for the full year.

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Oil stocks gained in line with rising prices for crude, with the energy sector index up 0.5 per cent. US crude was trading at US$41.43 a barrel on Tuesday, the highest since early December and a world away from the February trough of US$26.05.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.16 per cent or 10.60 points to 6,652.54.

The index hit a record high of 6,657.15 as yield-hungry investors continued to shift funds out of bank deposits amidst New Zealand's record low interest rates.

Outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Kathmandu led gains, rising 2.4 per cent after its half-year results showed sales increased by 9.3 per cent.

Insurance company Tower rose 1.1 per cent and milk company A2 Milk gained one per cent.

Steel Tube led losses, falling 1.7 per cent and Fisher&Paykel Healthcare lost 1.6 per cent.

REUTERS

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