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Australia shares end steady, erasing intraday gains; NZ down

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended flat on Wednesday, after financials pared earlier gains that had tracked Wall Street's highs and telecom stocks weighed on the index.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.04 per cent lower or 2.141 points to 5744.3 after two sessions of gains.

Financials gave away most of the gains recorded earlier in the day with the sector index ending 0.3 per cent higher after rising as much as 0.9 per cent.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia ended 0.8 per cent higher versus its intraday peak up 1.4 per cent and National Australia Bank shed 0.2 per cent.

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Australia's prudential regulator said that money-laundering accusations levelled at Commonwealth Bank had not affected its depositors.

Australia's corporate regulator on Tuesday took aim at the 'Big Four' major banks, saying they were very powerful with "a lot of hubris" and not used to being taken on by regulators.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp gained 0.5 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively.

Material stocks outperformed other sectors with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto leading the gains as iron ore futures in China jumped more than two per cent.

BHP Billiton ended one per cent higher and Rio Tinto gained 1.1 per cent to close three-and-a-half year high. South32 gained 0.6 per cent to end at a record high.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd said on Wednesday it had restarted production at a second part of its flagship Cadia gold mine, which was damaged in an earthquake in April, pushing its shares 0.9 per cent higher.

Shares of Telstra Corporation dropped 1.9 per cent while Wesfarmers slid one per cent as Standard and Poor's revised the company's outlook to 'negative' from 'stable'.

A survey published earlier in the day showed that consumer sentiment bounced modestly in September as worries over family finances warred with growing optimism about the economic outlook.

The survey showed that consumer sentiment rose 2.5 per cent in September, from August when it dropped 1.2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent or 12.98 points to 7827.43, as investors await Thursday's manufacturing PMI data.

The industrial sector led the declines with Auckland International Airport ending 1.4 per cent lower followed by the material sector.

Fletcher Building Ltd fell 1.4 per cent closing at a one month low.

The health care sector provided some support to the index with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare ending an 11th consecutive session of gains to close at a record high.