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Australia shares hit by stumble in energy firms, NZ at 2-wk lows
May 24, 2016 / 2:21 AM / a year ago

Australia shares hit by stumble in energy firms, NZ at 2-wk lows

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, May 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares were down for a second day in subdued trade on Tuesday, as falling oil prices pressured energy firms although miners proved resilient to more weakness in iron ore.

The S&P/ASX 200 index nudged 0.1 percent lower, or 11.3 points, to 5,306.9 by 0156 GMT. It dipped 0.6 percent in the last session, having touched its lowest level in two weeks.

The benchmark index has been drifting sideways since scaling a nine-month high of 5,425.2 on May 11.

Energy stocks were the hardest-hit on renewed weakness in oil prices with Oil Search down 1.6 percent, having earlier fallen as much as 2.0 percent to a low of A$6.48. Whitehaven Coal dropped 3 percent, while WorleyParsons fell 1.2 percent.

It was another grim day for Australia’s top listed travel agent Flight Centre Travel Group which tumbled 6 percent to a nine-month low. The company issued a profit warning on Monday, blaming a global airfare war.

Miners, however, managed to offset a 5.4 percent fall in the price of iron ore, Australia’s top export earner.

BHP Billiton rose 0.7 percent, while fellow global miner Rio Tinto gained 0.4 percent. Fortescue Metals Group, however, gave up 0.7 percent.

The big four local banks were largely steady to higher with Macquarie Bank Ltd up 1.2 percent, followed by Westpac Banking Corp and Commonwealth Bank of Australia around 0.3 percent higher each.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group dipped 0.1 percent.

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New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.5 percent or 34.5 points to 6,873.57, having touched its weakest since May 6.

The biggest loser was Tower, down 7.3 percent, after it reported a half year loss. A2 Milk was also under pressure, down 1.9 percent.

In the other direction Kathmandu was up 2.8 percent. ($1 = 1.4802 New Zealand dollars) (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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