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Australia shares end flat but post steep weekly loss; NZ flat

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed flat on Friday ending a week of overall loss, as investors picked up financial and materials stocks while declining oil prices left the energy sector sagging.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.02 per cent up to close at 5,665.2. For the week, the benchmark slumped 4.6 per cent as concerns about U.S. earnings fuelled an aversion to equities across the globe.

Financial shares reversed course to advance 0.4 per cent for the day but lost 4.4 per cent over the week.

The country's biggest lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia , gained 0.8 per cent, while National Australia Bank rose 0.7 per cent.

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Investors have been mindful of Australian bank earnings kicking off next week, as the sector has been embroiled in an inquiry leading to revelations of widespread misconduct.

Materials stocks also recovered to close the day 0.4 per cent up. The sector lost 4.8 per cent this week.

Mining heavyweight BHP gained 1.3 per cent and Rio Tinto rose 0.9 per cent.

On the other hand, energy shares ended the day down and saw their steepest weekly drop in nearly three years, falling 9.3 per cent. Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search were down 1 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively, at the end Friday's session.

Oil prices fell and were headed for a third weekly loss after Saudi Arabia's OPEC governor said the market may become oversupplied soon amid worries about demand growth.

Meanwhile, gold shares lost 2.4 per cent but recorded a fourth consecutive week of gain on the back of gold prices which were on track to see their longest string of weekly gains since January.

Newcrest Mining snapped three sessions of gain to close 3.2 per cent down.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed flat at 8568.4 but lost 2.7 per cent this week.

Consumer stocks A2 Milk and Synlait Milk fell 0.5 and 2.9 per cent, respectively.

REUTERS