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Australia: Shares flat, propped up by GDP data


[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed steady on Wednesday after first-quarter economic growth data beat expectations with a 0.3 per cent quarter-over-quarter expansion.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.274 points lower at 5,667.2, virtually flat on the day having recovered from a 0.4 per cent dip.

The 'Big 4' banks gained between 0.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent, while healthcare stock CSL Ltd gained 0.9 per cent.

Rising gold and copper prices boosted miners. Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining gained 0.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.

Data showed that iron ore shipments to China from Australia's Port Hedland terminal, used by BHP and Fortescue Metals, rose to a record 38 million tonnes in May.

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But, iron ore prices fell on the Dalian commodities exchange.

BHP, weakened by 0.6 per cent. The miner, which also has significant oil interests, was helped by global crude oil prices struggling around US$50 per barrel.

Internet company, Vocus Group was the biggest gainer on the index, up 21.7 per cent, after private equity giant KKR & Co LP made a US$1.66 billion takeover approach.

Declines on the benchmark were led by consumer and industrial stocks as retailer Wesfarmers lost 2.9 per cent, while toll-road operator Transurban shed 1.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.4 per cent, or 27.07 points, lower at 7,467.9.

Spark New Zealand and Fletcher Building were the biggest drags, losing over 1.4 per cent each.


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