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Australia: Shares slip as materials sector falters, NZ on holiday


[LONDON] Australian shares slipped on Monday, with financial stock gains on US President Donald Trump's order to review banking regulations offset by losses in the basic materials sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index drifted 0.11 per cent, or 5.982 points lower to 5,615.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark edged 0.4 per cent lower on Friday.

Trump ordered reviews of major banking rules, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, that were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis on Friday, hinting at looser banking regulation in the future.

Earlier in the session, financial stocks gained as much as 1.5 per cent to their highest in a week.

Financials dominated gains at the end of the session, with National Australia Bank ending 0.8 per cent higher, even after the No 4 lender by market value reported a 1 percent fall in quarterly cash profit.

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Materials stocks faltered, with index heavyweights BHP Billiton and South32 ending the session down 1.1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively, as the biggest drags on the benchmark.

January iron ore shipments to China from Australia's Port Hedland terminal, used by BHP and Fortescue Metals Group , were cut by 7.8 per cent due to shipping interruptions caused by stormy weather.

BHP also solicited government mediation with workers at its Escondida mine in Chile in a bid to avoid a strike.

Meanwhile, gold miners jumped as the yellow metal rose after a mixed US jobs data dampened expectations the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates next month, hurting the dollar.

The country's biggest gold producer Newcrest Mining finished 2.5 per cent higher, its best close in nearly three months.

New Zealand markets are closed for a public holiday. On Friday, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.6 per cent to 7,094.38.


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