June 21, 2019 / 6:48 AM / 4 months ago

Aussie shares end lower but make weekly gain; NZ up slightly

* Stocks snap three straight sessions of gains

* ASX 200 roughly 200 points away from lifetime high

* Financials lower as investors lock profits from 4 sessions (Updates to close)

By Ambar Warrick

June 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower but still posted weekly gains on Friday, having touched a more than 11-year high earlier in the week on hopes of interest rate cuts at home and in the United States.

The S&P/ASX 200 index to fell 0.6% or 36.60 points to 6,650.8 at the close. The benchmark added 1.5% for the week, and was only 200.7 points away from a lifetime high of 6,851.5, which it had touched in November 2007.

The bullishness was fuelled by dovish cues from the Reserve Bank Australia, and a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting that raised the prospect of a U.S. rate cut as early as next month.

Christopher Conway, Senior Investment Adviser at Australian financial planner Marcus Today, said the selling on Friday was largely down to profit taking.

“When markets rally as hard as what we’ve seen, there comes a point where everyone sort of looks at each other and asks ‘why are we up here?’” said Conway.

For the day, financial stocks snapped four straight gaining sessions to close 0.7% lower, with the country’s big four banks easing 0.4% to 1.2%.

The financial sub-index added nearly 2% for the week, having touched a 10-month peak on Thursday.

Biotherapeutics company CSL Ltd, the fourth-largest stock on the ASX 200, ended 3.2% down after it flagged lower Chinese sales in 2020 due to a change in its distribution model.

On the other hand, metals and mining stocks, the largest sector on the index after financials, ended at a near eight-year peak after adding 0.5%.

Iron ore miners BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group climbed 0.4% and 1.7%, respectively, while Rio Tinto closed 0.1% higher.

The mining subindex added 1.5% for the week.

New Zealand stocks reversed course to end slightly higher, with a recovery in utilities and industrials outpacing a fall in financials and consumer staples.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4% or 36.53 points to finish the session at 10,327.290. For the week, the index added nearly 0.9%.

The New Zealand shares of Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group closed 1% and 0.4% down, respectively, while energy retailer Mercury NZ gained 3.4%.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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