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Australia: Shares end marginally lower

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares trimmed early losses to end marginally lower on Tuesday, ending three sessions of gains.

Consumer staples and healthcare weighed on the index while gains on the financials sector cushioned overall losses.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.1 per cent or 5.96 points to 5,714.20 at the close of trade. The index ended 0.1 per cent higher on Monday.

"There's no real catalyst to move markets at the moment," said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer with IG Markets.

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Blackmores Ltd fell 3.6 per cent, dragging the consumer staples sector, after it said its Chief Executive and Managing Director Christine Holgate would move to Australia Post as CEO in September.

Metcash Ltd dropped 3.5 per cent while Australian Agricultural Company Ltd ended 1.6 per cent lower.

Healthcare stocks were also in the red with biotherapeutics company CSL Ltd falling 1.4 per cent and Regis Healthcare Ltd shedding 2 per cent to touch its lowest close in over nine months.

The gains on the financial and material sectors shored up the losses on the index.

Leading insurer QBE Insurance Group Ltd which fell 1.5 per cent hitting over a six-month low earlier in the day, ended the session 1.3 per cent higher.

Bank of Queensland Ltd closed 1.9 per cent higher while BT Investment Management Ltd rose 1 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.4 per cent or 30.85 points to finish the session at 7,626.35.

Gains in materials were offset by the fall in utilities stocks.

Comvita Ltd was the top gainer on the index after it rose 6.7 per cent to its highest close in over a month.

On the other hand, Scales Corporation Ltd was the biggest loser on the benchmark after it dropped 3.5 per cent to its lowest close since May 30.