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Australia: Shares end lower ahead of Trump's inauguration; NZ declines

Friday, January 20, 2017 - 14:19

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower on Friday, mirroring Wall Street, with financials and materials draging the index as investors turned cautious ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as president.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.7 per cent or 37.38 points lower to end the session at 5,654.80. It closed 0.2 per cent higher on Thursday after CSL Ltd hit a 15-year high on its profit upgrade.

The index fell 1.2 per cent this week, extending losses into a second week.

Financials ended the week 2.8 per cent lower, posting a third losing week in the past four weeks of trade.

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All of the "Big Four" banks extended losses into a second week, declining between 2.7 per cent and 4.1 per cent.

With investors wary before Mr Trump's inauguration, safe-haven buying pushed up gold prices which remain on track for their fourth weekly gain in a row.

Miners dropped as much as 1.8 per cent in the day to their biggest intraday per cent age loss since Dec 16, 2016.

Global miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton Ltd shed 1.9 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.

Chinese iron ore futures dropped for a third day on Friday, retreating further from a three-year high, with trade thinning ahead of the Lunar New Year break late next week.

China's economy grew a faster-than-expected 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, boosted by higher government spending and record bank lending.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent or 13.89 points to finish the session at 7,048.47.

Utilities were the biggest drag on the index with Spark New Zealand Ltd and hydro-electric power producer Meridian Energy Ltd declining 0.9 per cent and 1.1 per cent respecively.

Consumer discretionary stocks, on the other hand, gained with Skycity Entertainment Group Ltd and Sky Network Television Ltd rising 1.6 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.

REUTERS

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