January 25, 2018 / 6:17 AM / 8 months ago

Australia shares trim losses as materials gain; NZ at 2-week top

* Aussie shares down 0.1 pct, but end week up 0.7 pct

* Australian markets closed on Friday

* Banks weigh the most; firm oil and gold prices support materials

* NZ shares up about 0.6 pct as dairy, telco holds firm (Updates to close)

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares recouped some of their losses on Thursday to end the week in the black as a rally in top material firms partially offset falls in financials.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed lower 0.1 percent or 4.7 points at 6,050, edging away from intraday losses of as much as 0.4 percent.

The Sydney market stuttered early on after an uninspiring session on Wall Street overnight, which was pressured by worries of the Trump administration’s trade protectionist stance.

The benchmark, which rose 0.3 percent on Wednesday, ended an abbreviated week 0.7 percent higher. Australian markets will be closed on Friday for a public holiday.

Large-capped lenders National Australia Bank Ltd and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd finished the session 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent lower, respectively.

Toll road developer Transurban Group fell 1.1 percent, while steel manufacturer BlueScope Steel Ltd slipped 2.1 percent to a five-week low.

Taking the sting out of the broad market, global miner BHP Billiton - which has a sizable exposure to oil - rose 0.6 percent to end at its highest in over a week.

Brent oil prices hit $71 per barrel for the first time since 2014 as the dollar slumped to a three-year low and crude inventories in the United States fell for a 10th straight week.

The weaker dollar pushed gold prices to their strongest since August 2016, lifting Newcrest Mining Ltd 2.2 percent and the gold index past a one-week top.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.55 percent or 45.69 points to finish the session at 8,369.78 - its best close since Jan. 9.

Equity investors were likely encouraged by consumer prices rising at a slower-than-expected pace in the fourth quarter, meaning the central bank will be in no hurry to raise interest rates.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd pushed higher to fresh records, up 2.4 percent, while telco Spark New Zealand Ltd rose 1.7 percent. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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