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Australian shares end flat; NZ slips

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended flat on Tuesday as losses in financials and materials were offset by gains in energy and information technology stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.700 points to 5,940.90 at the close of trade. The benchmark added 0.6 per cent on Monday.

Banks were the biggest drag on Tuesday, with the Australian financial index slipping 0.2 per cent.

Westpac Banking Corp, the country's second-biggest bank by market value, fell 0.8 per cent and accounted for most of the losses while National Australia Bank declined 0.5 per cent.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 0.3 per cent despite reporting lower impaired assets for the first quarter.

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Materials stocks added to the losses, with miners BHP and Rio Tinto falling 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

After market hours, BHP, reported a 25 per cent rise in underlying half-year profit, helped by robust commodity prices.

Super Retail Group plunged 14.5 per cent to its lowest in more than three years.

The outdoor equipment retailer reported a 3 per cent fall in first-half profit and announced a A$135 million (S$140.334 million) takeover of outdoor recreation brand Macpac.

Conversely, energy stocks gained, helped by overnight gains in oil prices.

Woodside Petroleum, Australia's biggest independent gas and oil producer, climbed 1.6 per cent, while Origin Energy added one per cent.

Information technology stocks also gained. Software developer Altium surged 26.7 per cent to be the day's top percentage gainer.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent or 16.980 points to finish the session at 8,098.270.

Materials and health care stocks accounted for most of the losses, with Fletcher Building declining 1.4 per cent and Ryman Healthcare dipping 1.6 per cent.


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