October 10, 2017 / 6:29 AM / a year ago

Australian shares end flat; NZ closes at record high

(Updates to close)

Oct 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended flat amid thin trade on Tuesday as a rally in smaller miners was offset by losses in financial stocks, which reversed the day’s earlier gains.

Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.02 percent, or 1.158 points, to close at 5,738.1. The benchmark rose 0.5 percent on Monday.

Spot gold rose 0.2 percent to its highest in more than a week, helping the Australian gold index close up 1.2 percent.

Saracen Mineral Holdings led the gains on the main index, ending up 3.7 percent while Regis Resources ended 2.7 percent higher, at its highest in over two weeks.

Western Areas rose 2.5 percent as prices of base metals like nickel were firmer.

On the other hand, larger miners like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto ended 0.4 percent and 0.1 percent lower, respectively, with iron ore traded in major market China slipping 2.5 percent.

The financial index rose as much as 0.3 percent early in the day before ending 0.1 percent lower as lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia National Australia Bank fell 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Gaming machine maker Aristocrat Leisure pushed the benchmark up the most as it rose 2.8 percent to its highest in two months.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent, or 27.53 points, to finish the session at 8,037.81 on comments by the leader of the kingmaker New Zealand First party regarding the Kiwi dollar.

As the political impasse in Wellington continued, Winston Peters said on Monday that the island nation’s exporters should welcome the Kiwi’s decline to the four month low it touched at the start of the week.

The Kiwi fell to $0.7052 on Monday before recovering to trade at $0.7063 on Tuesday afternoon.

Dairy major A2 Milk was the top gainer and pushed the index up the most, rising 3.3 percent.

Conversely, Fletcher Building resumed its slide after rising on Monday, shedding 1.5 percent.

The home builder and construction material maker has fallen over five of the last six sessions.

Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nikhil Nainan; Editing by Sam Holmes

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