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Australia shares end flat, energy shares lose most; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended largely unchanged on Friday as healthcare shares rallied to a more than seven-month high, while energy stocks were the biggest loser after oil prices plunged on oversupply concerns.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.04 per cent, or 2.60 points, at 6,335.80, after falling 0.6 per cent on Thursday. The index snapped four weeks of gains to end its worst week since Feb. 1.

Healthcare shares closed higher for an eighth straight session, as California-based ResMed Inc reported a 12 per cent rise in its quarterly revenue.

Australia-listed shares of ResMed jumped 9.9 per cent and were the biggest gainers on the benchmark index, while Sonic Healthcare rose 0.8 per cent.

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Financials ended the week lower for the first time in three weeks after gaining more than 4 per cent in April.

Macquarie Group was among the biggest losers on the sub-index after the investment bank said earnings in 2020 would be "slightly down".

Shares of Macquarie Group tumbled 5.4 per cent despite the company beating its own earnings guidance with a 16.6 per cent rise in annual net profit and raising its final dividend.

Elsewhere, energy shares slipped 1.3 per cent to a more-than-three-week low, after oil prices dropped almost 3 per cent as the market grappled with oversupply fears.

The index snapped three weeks of gains and had its worst week since the end of March.

Shares of heavyweight oil explorers Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search fell 0.9 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

Gold stocks lost 1.1 per cent after bullion prices hovered near a four-month low hit in the previous session.

Shares of gold miners Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources dropped 1 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended down 0.3 per cent, or 27.67 points, at 10,058.08, coming off a record high hit on Thursday. The index gained for a third straight week, climbing 0.6 per cent.

Shares of fuel supplier Z Energy dipped 2.8 per cent, while port operator Port of Tauranga fell 3.4 per cent.

REUTERS