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Australia shares steady after central bank holds rates; NZ slides
[BENGALURU] Australian shares trod water on Tuesday, with losses in the financial sector offsetting gains in materials and industrials, after the country's central bank held rates steady at its first policy meeting of the year.
The S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.1 per cent, or 6.3 points to 5,621.9 at the close of trade.
The Australian central bank kept rates at a record low of 1.5 per cent for a seventh straight month, having lowered rates in August and May last year.
The "big four" Australian banks fell 0.3 per cent to 0.8 per cent, after the S&P 500 Financials Index closed 0.4 per cent lower overnight.
At the other end, toll roads operator Transurban Group rose as much as 6.9 per cent, posting its biggest intraday percentage gain in more than seven years, after recording a 42 per cent jump in first-half profit.
The gold index climbed as much as 4.4 per cent to hit a 12-week high, after the bullion price jumped one per cent on Monday to its highest in nearly three months.
Newcrest Mining Ltd rose 3.3 per cent, ending higher for a seventh-straight session in what is its longest streak of gains this year.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4 per cent, or 27.33 points, to finish the session at 7,067.05.
The country's near-term inflation expectations rose in the first quarter, a central bank survey showed.
Consumer discretionary and healthcare stocks were the biggest drag on the index.
Trade Me Group fell 4.1 per cent while gaming company Skycity Entertainment closed 3.5 per cent lower.