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Australia: Shares finish lower on cautious note


[SYDNEY] Australian shares snapped a three-day winning streak and ended lower on Friday, as investors grew cautious ahead of upcoming earnings as well as second quarter US economic growth data.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.4 per cent, or 82.21 points to 5,702.8 at the close of trade, posting its biggest intraday percentage loss in four weeks. The benchmark closed down 0.4 per cent for the week.

Markets were focused on second quarter US gross domestic product data due later in the day for clues on the strength of the US economy. Economists expect the data to show US growth picking up to 2.6 per cent from 1.4 per cent in the January-March quarter.

Financials and materials led the losses on the Australian benchmark index.

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The "Big Four" banks each lost over 1 percent each, with the financial index dropping 1.7 per cent.

The metals and mining index fell 1.3 per cent, with heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both posting their biggest intraday percentage losses in a week.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index suffered broad-based losses, shedding 0.9 per cent, or 72.21 points to finish the session at 7,639.51, its lowest close in two weeks. It lost 0.4 per cent for the week.