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Australia shares end weaker for third session; NZ higher


[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower for a third straight day on Tuesday, as weak oil prices and an equity stake sale in Woodside Petroleum Ltd dampened sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.9 per cent, or 53.072 points, to 5,968.7, led by broad-based losses in financials and commodities. The benchmark shed 0.1 per cent in the previous session.

Oil prices dipped as the prospect of further rises in US output undermined ongoing Opec-led production cuts aimed at tightening supply.

Royal Dutch Shell sold its entire stake in Woodside Petroleum for US$2.7 billion, selling 111.8 million shares at A$31.10 apiece compared with the closing price on Monday of A$32.24.

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Shares of Woodside Petroleum, Australia's largest independent oil and gas company, ended 3.2 per cent down at A$31.2.

Other large LNG plays may also come under pressure as a domestic funding source for Woodside's divestment, said RBC Capital Markets in a note.

Accordingly, oil and gas heavyweights Origin Energy and Santos Ltd lost 1.1 per cent and 2.4 per cent each.

Among other decliners, the country's "Big Four" banks were the top losers on the benchmark, shedding between one per cent and 1.5 per cent, with National Australia Bank scraping its lowest in more than two months.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.4 per cent, or 31.57 points higher at 8,008, with healthcare and telecom stocks leading gainers.

Medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp closed at an all-time high after a British court ruled that a patent held by rival Resmed Inc as invalid on Monday.