* Financials extend losses for fifth straight session
* NZ snaps six straight sessions of gains (Updates to close)
Feb 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed flat on Thursday as gains in metals and energy stocks were offset by losses in financials, with scandal-hit wealth manager AMP tumbling in yet another reminder of the costly management missteps in the sector.
The S&P/ASX 200 index eased 0.07 or 4.2 points to 6,059.4 at the close, having fallen 0.3 percent on Wednesday.
During the session, better than expected trade data reported out of Australia’s major export market China had little impact on trading, as investors were focused on high-level U.S.-Sino tariff talks.
Financial stocks were hit hard after AMP Ltd flagged further outflows from its flagship wealth management unit, which has been under immense pressure after widespread misconduct was brought to light by the Royal Commission last year.
The shares of Australia’s largest wealth manager dropped 7.8 percent, while those of the big four banks also closed lower.
The company, which posted a 97 percent fall in its full year statutory profit, has lost more than half its market capitalisation in the past 12 months.
Shares of the country’s biggest independent oil and gas producer, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, rose 1.9 percent to a near four month high after it hiked its annual dividend by 47 percent on the back of strong earning.
Higher oil prices pushed up other energy stocks with Santos Ltd and Origin Energy Ltd rising 0.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Mining stocks posted a one percent rise after the world’s largest miner BHP Group said its board had approved $696 million in funding to expand production at the BP PLC-led Atlantis oil project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Shares of BHP Group Ltd rose 1.6 percent to end at their highest in more than 7-1/2 years while its rival Rio Tinto Ltd advanced 0.9 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dipped 0.5 percent or 48.46 points, snapping six straight sessions of gains, to finish the session at 9,284.92.
New Zealand listed shares of Westpac Banking Corp slid 0.6 percent, while A2 Milk Company Ltd shed 2.7 percent.
A2 Milk appeared to lose further ground after China, its biggest market, reported a 1.5 percent drop in overall January imports.
Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam