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Australia: Shares steady after trade balance data; NZ set for third losing day

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares were effectively flat from the previous session on Thursday as investors digested disappointing trade data out earlier in the day.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.03 per cent, or 0.828 points, up to 5,668 by 0305 GMT. The index had closed 0.274 points lower on Wednesday.

Australia's A$555 million (S$577.72 million) April trade surplus out on Thursday missed expectations of A$ 1.95 billion, signalling another round of disappointing economic growth.

Australia posted its slowest rate of economic growth since 2009 in the March quarter, data showed on Wednesday.

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James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut, said Thursday's trade balance was cyclical.

ASX stocks fell slightly on the trade news before steadying.

Energy shares fell on overnight declines in oil prices with Woodside Petroleum falling 2.1 per cent and Oil Search down 1.6 per cent, its lowest in nearly three months.

Basic material stocks declined on falls in iron ore, copper and gold prices.

BHP and Fortescue Metals lost 0.04 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, while Rio Tinto eked out marginal gains.

Gold bellwether Newcrest Mining shed as much as 1.9 per cent, it biggest intraday loss in two weeks.

Telecom stocks Telstra and TPG Telecom fell more than 1.6 per cent each, with Telstra being the biggest drag on the benchmark. Argonaut's McGlew said Telstra shares may be seeing some profit-taking.

A gain of up to 3.2 per cent in CSL Ltd, its biggest intraday gain in nearly four months, drove healthcare stocks higher.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.2202 per cent, or 15.11 points, to 7,452.79 on track to post its third straight session of losses.

Auckland International Airport and Ryman Healthcare declined 1.9 per cent and 1.7 per cent, taking the most off the index.

Spark New Zealand, which was the biggest drag in the previous session, gained 0.7 per cent on Thursday.

REUTERS

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