December 2, 2016 / 6:05 AM / 9 months ago

Australia shares falter ahead of U.S. economic data; NZ slips

(Updates to close)

Dec 2 - Financials and energy shares led losers as Australia's benchmark index closed lower on Friday, with investors awaiting U.S. payrolls data for more clues to the strength of the U.S. economy and whether conditions were ripe for raising interest rates.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 56.2 points or 1.02 percent lower at 5,444 points.

Oil majors Woodside and Oil Search fell 2 percent and 0.14 percent respectively, taking a breather from surges made on Thursday, after oil prices jumped on OPEC's decision to cut oil production.

Bellamy's Australia was the biggest percentage loser on the index, recording its biggest ever percentage loss. The baby foods maker tanked in a heavy sell-off on Friday, down as much as 44 percent, after it said that new import rules in China had created a supply glut that was hurting sales.

Dairy companies A2 Milk and Bega Cheese also slumped 10.2 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.

Financials snapped their three-day winning streak to fall 0.9 percent, with all 'Big Four' banks ending the session in red.

Large-cap miner BHP Billiton slipped 2.3 percent, while Rio Tinto eased 1.12 percent after copper prices waned on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday.

The benchmark index fell 1.16 percent on the week, snapping the previous week's gains.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4 percent or 27.89 points to finish the session at 6,904.8.

Losses were led by consumer staples and material shares.

A2 Milk led consumer staple sector losses, and was the biggest percentage loser on the main index, down 11.6 percent.

Air New Zealand ended the session 1.4 percent lower.

The index ended the week marginally higher, gaining for a third week. (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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