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REFILE-Aussie shares poised for a tame end to a buoyant 2016; NZ slips
December 30, 2016 / 2:00 AM / a year ago

REFILE-Aussie shares poised for a tame end to a buoyant 2016; NZ slips

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By Aparajita Saxena

Dec 30 (Reuters) - Financial shares dragged Australian stocks lower in morning trade on Friday, following leads from U.S. and European bank shares that eased on profit taking.

The market was further dented by material stocks that came under pressure from losses in copper and Chinese steel.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 10.7 points or 0.2 percent to 5,688.3 by 0133 GMT.

It rose 7.4 percent this year, rebounding from last year’s losses.

Financial shares underperformed other sectors on Friday, with the “Big Four” banks down more than a percent each. The overall index gained 5.3 percent this year.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto also shaved off gains, dragging the materials and metals index after slipping over a percent each.

Over the year though, BHP Billiton gained 42.8 percent, while Rio Tinto rose 35.8 percent.

Materials outperformed in 2016, with the materials index up about 40 percent, and broader metals index up 53.2 percent.

Energy shares snapped five sessions of gains on Friday, to fall 0.8 percent after oil futures backtracked on Thursday.

“In a broader sense, when Donald Trump was elected, the first thing he suggested was that he was going to undo the Trans-Pacific trade deal, which Australia is a part of. That may undermine some agricultural areas. Other than that, I think strength in commodities will be good for the markets overall,” says Gary Burton, market analyst at IG, for the year ahead.

Whitehaven Coal fell 3 percent, leading sector losses.

Gold explorers Newcrest Mining and Perseus Mining rose 4.7 percent each during the session, after gold prices advanced to their highest in more than two weeks on Thursday.

The gold index jumped 45.3 percent this year, posting its yearly best performance in 16 years.

Healthcare stocks were the worst performers this year.

Estia Health hit a record low in 2016, eroding about 63 percent of its share price.

Sirtex Medical, already the worst performer of 2016, down more than 60 percent, slid 0.8 percent on Friday. The company has been underperforming the broader S&P/ASX 200 Health Care (GIC) Index this year, and tumbled 37 percent on December 9 on a poor earnings outlook, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream. (bit.ly/2iKn5Vg)

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent or 11.06 points to 6,881.2.

The index rose 9 percent in 2016, gaining for a fifth straight year.

Industrials led losses on Friday, with Auckland International Airport losing the most.

Air New Zealand was among the gainers, up 1.2 percent on the day.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Additional reporting by Shashwat Pradhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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