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Australia: Shares steady as energy gains offset gold plunge; NZ up

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.04 per cent or 2.5 points to 6,724.1 at the close of trade.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed little changed on Friday, as gains in energy stocks offset a sell-off in gold miners after price of the precious metal slumped overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.04 per cent or 2.5 points to 6,724.1 at the close of trade. The index posted a weekly gain of 0.8 per cent.

US stock indexes closed at record highs and safe-haven demand for gold tumbled on Wednesday amid signals of progress in trade talks, however, the enthusiasm did not spill into Asian markets.

News that the "phase one" trade deal faces fierce internal opposition in the White House and from outside advisers weighed on most Asian bourses.

In Australia, losses were dominated by gold miners, which had their worst session in almost three years following a 2 per cent plunge in the precious metal's prices earlier on Thursday.

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Newcrest Mining, the country's biggest-listed gold miner, slumped 4.6 per cent, while Northern Star Resources lost 6.6 per cent.

The country's biggest independent oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum rose 2 per cent after it raised the estimate for dry gas reserves at its Scarborough project, which it counts as a major growth driver in the next decade.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8 per cent, or 81.92 points, to finish the session at 10,876.98. The index recorded a weekly gain of 1.1 per cent.


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