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Australia shares slip, weighed by financial, energy sectors; NZ edges up

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower on Tuesday with financial stocks the biggest drag as QBE Insurance tumbled after the company said rising disaster claims could hurt earnings and as a decline in the oil price hit energy firms.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 per cent, or 27.93 points, to 5,701.40 at the close of trade.

Australia's biggest insurer QBE Insurance Group closed the day 3.5 per cent down after it announced a US$600 million earnings hit on its business from hurricanes in the Atlantic and earthquakes in Mexico.

The insurer added that it had increased its allowance for large individual risk and catastrophe claims to US$1.75 billion for 2017.

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Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia left its cash rate at 1.5 per cent on Tuesday, a widely expected decision given policymakers have signalled a steady outlook for some time to come.

In other sectors, energy stocks were among the worst performers as oil prices declined for a second day amid fresh worries about a global over-supply of crude.

The Australian energy index ended the day nearly one per cent down. Beach Energy slipped 5.5 per cent, Woodside Petroleum fell one per cent and Origin Energy closed the day 0.8 per cent lower.

The gold index closed 0.7 per cent down after prices of the yellow metal dropped to a seven-week low.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining slipped 1.3 per cent while Northern Star Resources closed down 0.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.06 per cent, or 4.53 points to finish the session at 7,933.42, supported by healthcare and utility stocks.

Arvida Group was the best performer on the index, rising 2.5 per cent while Contact Energy rose 1.1 per cent.

REUTERS