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Australia: Shares end lower for a second day; flat for the week

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares dropped 0.4 per cent on Friday weighed down by financial, energy and resources counters and as corporate earnings continued to disappoint investors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 22.7 points to 5,881.5 at the close of trade, still in sight of a 7-year high.

The benchmark eased 0.2 per cent on Thursday but was up 0.07 per cent in the week.

The index, which is up about 9 per cent so far this year, is however expected to give up some gains as valuations remain high. It is trading at 14.2 times its 12-month forward earnings, higher than its 10-year average.

STW Communications and Transpacific Industries were the top index losers on Friday after dismal earnings. Energy-related stocks were battered down while miners BHP Billiton and Fortescue fell 0.8 and 2.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index ended up 0.4 per cent, or 22.72 points, to finish the session at 5,748.95.

REUTERS