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Australia: Shares flat as investors stay on sidelines, NZ higher

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 11:36
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[SYDNEY] Australian shares were unchanged on Friday, and New Zealand stocks edged slightly higher as investors on both sides of the Tasman took a breather ahead of the August reporting season.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 2 points to 5,558.6 by 0221 GMT, a rise of 0.04 per cent. The benchmark has moved little this week, edging up just over 1 percent. Though the index has rallied 8.8 per cent since Britain's vote to leave the European Union in June.

"The market's marking time," said Michael Gunn, an equities advisor at Burrell Stockbroking. "We've sort of been doing that for most of this week, coming into reporting season. I think that investors are on the sidelines and taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach to have a look at what sort of numbers companies are going to put out there."

Iron ore prices ran to 12-week highs, but mining stocks eased as profit-taking investors sold off their stakes.

BHP Billiton fell 0.85 per cent, Rio Tinto lost 1.3 per cent and Fortescue Metals Group fell 2.8 per cent, backing away from a 2-year high.

Oil company Beach Energy fell as much as 4.8 per cent, tracking oil prices lower.

Losses among miners and energy companies were offset by modest gains in most other sectors.

Shares in Bega Cheese surged 7 per cent and shares in Murray Goulburn subsidiary MG Unit trust fell 5.6 per cent after Australia's top grocer Woolworths switched own-label supply deal from Murray Goulburn to Bega.

Shares in Mayne Pharma Group Ltd added as much as 3.1 per cent after it announced it had settled a patents lawsuit. Medical equipment manufacturer ResMed Inc stock rose 4.1 per cent to a 15-month high after it announced a 14 per cent jump in revenue, beating expectations.

National Australia Bank rose 0.7 per cent, Westpac Banking Corp added 0.65 percent.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 per cent or 22 points to 7,328.26 on Friday.

The biggest gainers included health and beauty products manufacturer Comvita, up 4.4 per cent on some bargain hunting after the stock had come under pressure this week.

The biggest losers included online classifieds business Trade Me, down 0.8 per cent.

REUTERS