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Australia shares drift lower, NZ treads water
January 18, 2017 / 6:13 AM / a year ago

Australia shares drift lower, NZ treads water

(Updates to close)

Jan 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares tipped into negative territory on Wednesday, after Wall Street financials, transports and other big post-election gainers lost ground as earnings season kicked into gear.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.36 percent, or 20.62 points, lower at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.9 percent on Tuesday.

In the U.S., financials and big post-election gainers slid ahead of earnings, while commments by President-elect Donald Trump withered healthcare stocks.

Australian financial stocks faltered with three of the “Big Four” banks sagging between 0.7 percent to 1 percent to their lowest in more than four weeks, except Commonwealth Bank.

Healthcare giant CSL Limited, posted three straight sessions of losses and closed down 1.1 percent.

Qantas Airways, slumped as much as 3.7 percent, to record its biggest loss in 10 weeks, as the country’s top airline grounded 10 turboprop aircraft and cancelled flights after it failed to complete inspections in a timely manner.

On the other hand, safe haven assets glittered as gold prices powered up to near eight-week highs, sending the ASX All Ordinaries Gold Index up as much as 2.5 percent, its highest in two months.

Oil and gas giants Santos Limited and Woodside Petroleum gained 2 percent and 1.2 percent respectively as the weaker greenback supported a rise in crude oil prices.

Consumer sentiment remained flat in January, dissapointing expectations of a recovery from a 3.4 percent drop in December, in the survey from the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.05 percent, or 3.69 points down, to finish the session at 7,059.27.

Consumer discretionaries dominated losses with web advertiser Trade Me Group, down as much as 2 pct, its lowest in over four weeks.

Fletcher Building fell as much as 1.9 percent to its lowest in a month.

Unlike broader markets, the healthcare sector in New Zealand ended in positive territory where Ryman Healthcare, one of the top percentage gainer on the benchmark, closed 1.45 percent higher. (Reporting by Hanna Paul in Bengaluru)

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