March 22, 2016 / 2:01 AM / 3 years ago

Australia, NZ shares sidle sideways, telecoms in demand

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, March 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares dithered either side of flat on Tuesday with Wall Street offering no lead and bulls chastened by the repeated failure to break major chart resistance in the past week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was off 1.2 points, or 0.02 percent, at 5,165.4 by 0130 GMT. Traders said the market was in consolidation mode after topping around 5,216 last week, but also has strong support around 5,088.

Telecoms was the biggest gaining sector with a jump of 1.9 percent, led in large part by upbeat results from internet provider TPG Telecom.

TPG’s stock added over 5 percent after reporting a near 90 percent jump in its first half net profit and a strong outlook for the full year.

Oil stocks gained in line with rising prices for crude, with the energy sector index up 0.5 percent. U.S. crude was trading at $41.43 a barrel on Tuesday, the highest since early December and a world away from the February trough of $26.05.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.16 percent or 10.60 points to 6,652.54.

The index hit a record high of 6,657.15 as yield-hungry investors continued to shift funds out of bank deposits amidst New Zealand’s record low interest rates.

Outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Kathmandu led gains, rising 2.4 percent after its half-year results showed sales increased by 9.3 percent.

Insurance company Tower rose 1.1 percent and milk company A2 Milk gained 1.0 percent.

Steel Tube led losses, falling 1.7 percent and Fisher&Paykel Healthcare lost 1.6 percent.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Wayne Cole and Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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