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Australian shares run out of puff as banks slip; NZ falls

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares' winning run petered out on Tuesday after an initial jump as banks dragged, though offsetting gains in materials stocks curbed losses on the index.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4 per cent or 27.9 points to 6,258.1 at the close of trade. The benchmark added 0.2 per cent on Monday.

Banks led Tuesday's declines on the main index, reversing its sharp gains in the last three sessions. The Australian financial index dipped 1 per cent, its biggest fall in more than two weeks.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia dropped 2.2 per cent, and was the biggest drag on the benchmark, while Westpac Banking Corp slid 1 per cent.

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Consumer stocks were also negative, with retailer Wesfarmers Ltd dipping 1.3 per cent. Treasury Wine Estates , the world's biggest listed winemaker, slid 2.4 per cent.

But higher base metal and iron ore prices boosted materials stocks, braking the benchmark's slide.

Index heavyweight BHP firmed 1.1 per cent to a near two-month high, while Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.9 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4 per cent or 38.72 points to finish the session at 9,022.93.

Utilities and telecommunications stocks set the bearish tone, with Spark New Zealand Ltd falling 1.7 per cent while Meridian Energy Ltd slipping 0.9 per cent.

REUTERS