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Australian shares end flat; NZ closes at record high

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended flat amid thin trade on Tuesday as a rally in smaller miners was offset by losses in financial stocks, which reversed the day's earlier gains.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.02 per cent, or 1.158 points, to close at 5,738.1. The benchmark rose 0.5 per cent on Monday.

Spot gold rose 0.2 per cent to its highest in more than a week, helping the Australian gold index close up 1.2 per cent.

Saracen Mineral Holdings led the gains on the main index, ending up 3.7 per cent while Regis Resources ended 2.7 per cent higher, at its highest in over two weeks.

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Western Areas rose 2.5 per cent as prices of base metals like nickel were firmer.

On the other hand, larger miners like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto ended 0.4 per cent and 0.1 per cent lower, respectively, with iron ore traded in major market China slipping 2.5 per cent.

The financial index rose as much as 0.3 per cent early in the day before ending 0.1 per cent lower as lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia National Australia Bank fell 0.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Gaming machine maker Aristocrat Leisure pushed the benchmark up the most as it rose 2.8 per cent to its highest in two months.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 per cent, or 27.53 points, to finish the session at 8,037.81 on comments by the leader of the kingmaker New Zealand First party regarding the Kiwi dollar.

As the political impasse in Wellington continued, Winston Peters said on Monday that the island nation's exporters should welcome the Kiwi's decline to the four month low it touched at the start of the week.

The Kiwi fell to US$0.7052 on Monday before recovering to trade at US$0.7063 on Tuesday afternoon.

Dairy major A2 Milk was the top gainer and pushed the index up the most, rising 3.3 per cent.

Conversely, Fletcher Building resumed its slide after rising on Monday, shedding 1.5 per cent.

The home builder and construction material maker has fallen over five of the last six sessions.

REUTERS