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Australia shares end down as Healthscope dives; NZ falls

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed lower on Friday, dragged down by healthcare stocks after Healthscope Ltd tumbled over a profit warning, while a stronger US dollar weighed on oil prices, pulling down energy shares.

The US dollar rose to seven-month highs against a basket of currencies, as the euro fell to its lowest since March after the European Central Bank shot down talk it was contemplating tapering its monetary easing.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.2 per cent lower at 5,430.3. The index fell for the second consecutive week, losing 0.1 per cent this week.

Healthscope closed almost 19 per cent lower, at an eight-month low, after the company said it experienced slower-than-expected revenue growth in hospitals in the first quarter.

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Gains in financial stocks helped the benchmark in reversing some of the losses during early trade, with Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd gaining 0.9 and 0.8 per cent, respectively.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.2 per cent lower at 6958.4. The index lost 2.5 per cent this week, in third straight week of losses.

Consumer cyclicals were the biggest drag on the index, with Skycity Entertainment Group Ltd falling almost 12 per cent to its lowest in a year, after warning that crackdown on gaming by Chinese authorities would hurt its ability to attract Chinese VIP gamblers.

Orion Health, the top gainer on the benchmark, closed 3.3 per cent higher, its biggest intra-day percentage gain in three weeks.