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Australia: Shares flat as technical snag halts afternoon trade; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares struggled to advance on Monday, with technical glitches marring early dealing and later forcing a halt to afternoon trade.

Losses in consumer and energy stocks offset gains in materials and financials, but the technical problems and caution ahead of central bank meetings in the United States and Japan this week left investors in little mood to stake out new positions.

Afternoon trading was halted on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) as a technical snag that had delayed the market's opening resurfaced.

The S&P/ASX 200 index, which had gained in the past three sessions, closed down 0.04 per cent or 1.90 points to 5,294.8.

Stock exchange operator ASX fell 1.4 per cent.

Energy stocks slipped as crude oil hit multi-week low on Friday. Oil major Woodside Petroleum slid 1.1 per cent while Beach Energy tumbled more than 2 per cent.

Retail to resources giant Wesfarmers Ltd fell as much as 2.1 per cent but then erased much of that loss to end 0.5 per cent weaker.

Gold stocks gained 1.8 per cent as spot gold rose 0.4 per cent to US$1,315.70 an ounce by 0606 GMT. Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd was among the biggest gainers on the benchmark, climbing more than 2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index extended gains, advancing 0.4 per cent or 27.61 points to 7,278.12.

Financial exchange operator NZX Ltd ended 1.9 per cent firmer while Stride Property Ltd was the biggest gainer on the benchmark, hitting an all-time high intra-day percentage gain of 4.1 per cent.

REUTERS