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Australia shares end lower as materials sector falters; NZ down

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 13:56

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares ended slightly lower on Friday, after the S&P/ASX 200 index on Thursday notched its highest close since May 5, 2015.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was off 0.2 per cent, or 10.51 points, at 5,805.8 by the close of trade.

Lower iron ore and copper prices dragged basic material stocks down. The S&P/ASX 200 materials index slipped into negative territory, after hitting more than a two-year high in the previous session.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto shedding 1.1 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively, making their biggest falls in two weeks.

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BHP Billiton's management and worker positions in a strike at its Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world's largest mine, remain distant.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals lost 2.4 per cent.

Shares in industrial building material's company James Hardie Australia fell to a three-month low.

Healthcare stocks were the second biggest losers, with CSL Ltd, Sonic Healthcare and Cochlear Ltd dropping between 1.3 per cent and 2.2 per cent.

The benchmark energy index fell for a fourth consecutive day at 0.5 per cent.

Origin Energy hit over a five-week low while WorleyParsons Ltd slipped 2.6 per cent.

Hotel operator Mantra Group Ltd, the worst performer on the main index, slumped 5.6 per cent after half-year core earnings of its Central Business District segment dipped.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.1 per cent, or 6.46 points lower, at 7093.52.

Telecoms and utilities were the biggest losers on the index.

Spark New Zealand dropped 2.3 per cent while Meridian Energy fell for a fifth straight session to more than a five-week low.

REUTERS

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