June 7, 2017 / 6:44 AM / 7 months ago

Australia shares flat, propped up by GDP data; NZ lower

(Updates to close)

June 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed steady on Wednesday after first-quarter economic growth data beat expectations with a 0.3 percent quarter-over-quarter expansion.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.274 points lower at 5,667.2, virtually flat on the day having recovered from a 0.4 percent dip.

The ‘Big 4’ banks gained between 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent, while healthcare stock CSL Ltd gained 0.9 percent.

Rising gold and copper prices boosted miners. Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining gained 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Data showed that iron ore shipments to China from Australia’s Port Hedland terminal, used by BHP and Fortescue Metals, rose to a record 38 million tonnes in May.

But, iron ore prices fell on the Dalian commodities exchange.

BHP, weakened by 0.6 percent. The miner, which also has significant oil interests, was helped by global crude oil prices struggling around $50 per barrel.

Internet company, Vocus Group was the biggest gainer on the index, up 21.7 percent, after private equity giant KKR & Co LP made a $1.66 billion takeover approach.

Declines on the benchmark were led by consumer and industrial stocks as retailer Wesfarmers lost 2.9 percent, while toll-road operator Transurban shed 1.4 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.4 percent, or 27.07 points, lower at 7,467.9.

Spark New Zealand and Fletcher Building were the biggest drags, losing over 1.4 percent each. (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Camerono-Moore)

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