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Australia: Shares lower, weighed by energy; New Zealand marginally up


[BENGALURU] Australian shares were lower on Tuesday, dragged down by financial and commodity stocks as the discount in Royal Dutch Shell's divestment of its stake in Woodside Petroleum Ltd hit wider sentiment.

Royal Dutch Shell on Monday, initially said it would sell 71.6 million shares in Australia's largest independent oil and gas company, but later upsized its sale to 111.8 million shares worth a total of US$2.7 billion before tax proceeds at A$31.10 apiece compared with the closing price on Monday of A$32.24.

"With the discount that the buyers picked up, the market has knocked the stock down to not far off that price, and that's had a fairly big influence on the index," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stock broking for Argonaut in Perth.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell nearly 1 per cent or 59.172 points to 5953.5 by 0056 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.1 per cent on Monday.

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Oil prices held in a tight range Monday after briefly testing lower with Brent crude futures down 36 cents, or 0.6 per cent.

Woodside Petroleum fell as much as 3.2 per cent, while other major energy stocks also traded in the red with the sector's index down as much as 2.1 per cent. Origin Energy Ltd fell as much as 2.3 per cent and Santos Ltd was down as much as 2.8 per cent.

RBC Capital Markets said in a note it sees shares of other local LNG players coming under pressure, as domestic funding diverts to the Woodside divestment.

The country's "Big Four" banks all fell with Westpac Banking Corp down as much as 1.3 per cent and National Australia Bank Ltd falling 1.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.02 per cent or 1.87 points to 7978.3.

Index heavyweights Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd and Z Energy Ltd gained as much as 4 percent and 2.9 per cent, respectively.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare's stock posted a record high after a Britain's High Court ruled on Monday that rival Resmed Inc's patent was invalid.

The company had filed the case against California-based Resmed in 2016, after Resmed had said the New Zealand company's masks violated Resmed patents.