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Australian shares edge up, rally for 4th month; NZ flat


[BENGALURU] Australian shares wobbled on Tuesday, with investors in BHP doing enough to keep the market in positive territory as a rout in US technology stocks filtered through to peers down under.

The S&P/ASX 200 index stood just 1.8 points higher at 6,280.2 by the close of trade, holding near multi-year highs, supported for a fourth consecutive month of gains.

"It does suggest that there are valuation impacts holding back the overall market and that in a technical sense this is the top of the range for the moment," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader

BHP, the world's biggest miner, rose 2 per cent to close at its highest in nearly four years, to provide the main boost for the index.

"BHP's getting the credit from selling its shale assets. People are hanging on because they think potentially there will be capital management like a buy-back, or even higher dividends," said Mathan Somasundaram, a Blue Ocean Equities market portfolio strategist.

Despite the growing likelihood of a strike at BHP's Escondida mine in Chile, investors still locked in positions after the company promised to return to shareholders proceeds from it's U.S. shale assets sale to BP Plc.

The energy index climbed over 1 per cent, with Woodside Petroleum topping the gains, despite oil prices retreating in Asian trade on oversupply concerns.

Aussie technology stocks were the biggest hindrance to gains, with the sector index down over 2 per cent, tracking global tech giants declines in U.S. markets after posting disappointing earnings.

WiseTech Global and Xero Ltd suffered the biggest losses, falling 7.9 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed at 8,922.09 in a lacklustre session. The benchmark edged lower for July, snapping three straight months of gains.

Gains among telecommunication stocks, led by Spark New Zealand were eclipsed by losses from index heavyweights a2 Milk Company and Fletcher Building.

Amid concern over falling global dairy prices and oversupply, a2 Milk fell 1.5 per cent, while Fonterra said its total milk production in the region during June rose 11 per cent.