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Australia: Shares slip, NZ jumps 13.6% in 2015

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares took a breather on the last trading day of the year on Thursday after running up to a 2-month high in the previous session, tracking negative global cues as oil prices continued to slump slump.

By 0041 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index had slipped 3.84 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 5,316.1. The benchmark rose 1 per cent on Wednesday.

Resources and energy stocks weighed on the index, threatening to end a 9-day rally that helped push the benchmark 3 per cent higher for December alone.

With slumping iron ore and metal prices hitting heavyweight mining stocks, the index has had a rough year overall, shedding 1.7 per cent, and is on track for its first loss since 2011.

In contrast, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index has been making successive record highs.

While it barely moved on Thursday, it is still up a whopping 13.6 per cent this year, its fourth annual gain. In December alone, it gained more than 3 per cent.

However, analysts maintained a bullish long-term view of the Australian index on the back of the weak Aussie dollar. The benchmark is expected to rebound in 2016 to 5,625 points, a Reuters poll found.

On Thursday, major miners BHP Billiton slipped 1.3 per cent while Rio Tinto was down 0.6 per cent. Junior gold miner Evolution fell 2.8 per cent.

Energy shares skidded, too, with LNG tumbling 6.8 per cent and Beach Energy down 2.5 per cent.

Slater & Gordon, already the worst performer of 2015, down 86 per cent, continued its slide on Thursday, tumbling 4 per cent.

Blackmores Ltd, this year's top performer, rose 1.3 per cent while another investor darling Domino's Pizza jumped 3.6 per cent. Blackmores surged 518 per cent this year while Domino's is up 136 per cent.

For more individual stocks activity click on The NZX 50 index closed up 0.08 per cent, or 4.87 points, at 6,324.26.

The biggest gainers were Tower, up 1.3 per cent and Freightways, up 1.1 per cent. The biggest losers included A2 Milk as investors took profits after a solid run in the wake of positive guidance.

Trading in New Zealand ended early at 0000 GMT ahead of the New Year Day holiday on Friday. It will reopen on Tuesday.

Trading in Australia will end at 0310 GMT on Thursday. It will resume on Monday.

REUTERS