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Australia: Shares pare losses to finish flat


[SYDNEY] Australian shares wiped off early losses to finish mostly flat on Thursday after falling for two straight sessions, helped by a late rally in consumer staples shares while miners continued to be laggards on the index.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.04 per cent, or 2.61 points, to 5,904.2 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.5 per cent on Wednesday, after hitting its highest level since early 2008 on Monday.

Woolworths rose 1.6 per cent, department store operator Myer ended up 4 percent while Wesfarmers , which operates the Coles brand of supermarkets, finished 1.2 per cent higher.

The index is up 9.1 per cent so far this year but is set for its poorest weekly performance since Jan 16.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.3 per cent or 17.31 points to finish the session at 5,856.77.