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Financials

Australia shares end flat ahead of U.S. inflation data as mining, energy stocks drag

* Mining, energy stocks weigh on ASX200

* Technology stocks outperform benchmark

* NZX50 index gains 1.1%

April 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares surrendered early gains in a choppy session to end flat on Tuesday as investors awaited inflation data from the United States before making further bets, with energy and mining firms cancelling out gains in tech stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.04% at 6,976.9 points, having gained as much as 0.3% during the session.

“The market is mainly in a holding pattern in anticipation of the U.S. inflation data coming tonight and it may be a catalyst for some direction,” said Mathan Somasundaram, chief executive officer at Deep Data Analytics.

“Trading turnover has been relatively low as the market awaits the U.S. Fed’s comment on the inflation number to see if it is too far out of their comfort zone or not, so the next 24-48 hours are crucial.”

Australian mining stocks tumbled 0.7% to mark their third straight session in the red, even as iron ore prices jumped on robust demand worldwide.

Heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell as much as 0.9% and 1.1%, respectively.

Energy stocks also ended 0.7% lower. Oil and gas explorer Beach Energy declined 2.6%, while transport fuel supplier Ampol lost up to 2.3%.

By contrast, buy now, pay later firm Zip Co soared as much as 18% after it posted record third-quarter revenue and customer growth and unveiled plans to expand into Canada and Southeast Asia.

Zip’s larger rival and tech index darling Afterpay hit a six-week high and rose as much as 4.2%, pushing the sub-index 2.2% higher.

Gold-nickel-lithium miner IGO climbed as much as 4.7% after agreeing to sell its 30% stake in the Tropicana mine for A$903 million ($686.6 million).

In New Zealand, where the central bank is expected to leave interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, the S&P/NZX 50 closed 1.1% higher at 12,656.4. ($1 = 1.3153 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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