August 30, 2017 / 6:55 AM / a year ago

Australia shares close flat to end three session run of losses; NZ up

(Updates to close)

Aug 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended flat on Wednesday as a plunge in the shares of Telstra, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, was offset by gains in the real estate and consumer staples sectors.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed construction spending in the country posted its largest ever increase of 9.3 percent last quarter and dwarfed forecasts for a rise of just 1 percent.

The increase amounted to a whopping A$4.4 billion ($3.51 billion) in inflation adjusted dollars, implying an addition to gross domestic product growth of more than 1 percentage point.

Most consumer staples stocks closed higher with Bega Cheese Ltd ending up 3.3 percent.

The metals and mining index closed 0.4 percent higher, supported by copper prices that hovered just a whisker from its highest level in three years.

Copper miner OZ Minerals Ltd gained 2 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.01 percent, or 0.688 points to 5,669.7 at the close of trade.

Among the losers, Telstra Corporation’s shares closed 6.3 percent lower after it dropped a plan to raise A$5.5 billion ($4.4 billion) by selling income it receives from a government-owned broadband network. It also went ex-dividend.

Financials extended their losses with the sector index down 0.1 percent as Commonwealth Bank of Australia closed 0.5 percent lower, marking its third consecutive day of losses.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.5 percent higher, or 36.86 points to 7775.2, snapping a four-day losing streak.

Gains were concentrated in the telecommunications and health care sectors, while materials stocks also contributed to the gains.

Spark New Zealand Ltd closed 1.6 percent higher while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd gained 1.8 percent.

Reporting by Nicole Pinto in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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