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Australian shares slip on losses in banking shares; NZ up

Friday, March 31, 2017 - 14:29

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares finished lower on Friday, weighed down by losses in financials as investors repositioned themselves after a strong rally on Thursday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 31.3 points or 0.53 per cent to 5,864.9 at the close of trade.

The market managed to keep its head above water this week, climbing 1.94 percent versus last week's 0.8 per cent decline. It rose for a fourth straight quarter, its longest winning streak since June 2014.

Financial stocks fell 0.58 per cent after their longest daily bull run since Oct 10 2016.

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Three of the "Big Four" banks fell less than one per cent, while ANZ Banking slipped 1.39 per cent after 11.6 million shares changed hands, twice the 30-day average.

BHP Billiton failed to impress, falling 0.91 per cent this week, and 0.12 per cent on the day, hurt by a two per cent drop in Chinese iron ore futures.

Oil prices, which fell on profit-taking on Friday, further undermined BHP, which has significant exposure to the sector.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search , Beach Energy and Santos fell 0.8 per cent to 1.3 per cent. The energy index fell 0.9 per cent after six straight gaining sessions. It rose 2.12 per cent this quarter.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.38 per cent or 27.67 points to 7,196.78.

The index rose 4.6 per cent this quarter, compared with a 6.52 per cent loss in the previous quarter.

Telecom and consumer discretionary stocks led overall gains. Spark New Zealand, up 1.45 per cent, was the top performer on the index, followed by Contact Energy which rose 1.4 per cent.

REUTERS

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