October 26, 2017 / 6:54 AM / 2 months ago

Australia shares rise as financials rebound, New Zealand slips

(Updates to close)

By Hanna Paul

Oct 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged up on Thursday, even though miners were down, aided by gains for some banks and health-care stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.2 percent, or 10.703 points, to 5,916.3 at the close. The benchmark gained 0.1 percent on Wednesday.

Health care stocks rose 0.8 percent, reaching their highest level since June 30. Hearing solutions provider Cochlear surged 2.2 percent.

Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said one factor helping healthcare sector was the weak inflation data announced on Wednesday. Core inflation undershot estimates.

All of the Big Four banks were down early in the day, after Australia and New Zealand Banking gave a gloomy revenue growth outlook.

But the other three rebounded, closing up between 0.3 and 0.6 percent.

ANZ, which was down 3.4 percent at one point, ended 1.2 percent off.

“Investors are continuing to position for pretty solid results from Westpac and NAB next week,” Spooner said, adding there will be “some improvement in interest margins due to recent mortgage rate pricing and ongoing cost programs feeding into a solid reporting season for the banks”.

Index heavyweights BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group sagged.

Both BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto had their biggest losses in a week as iron ore prices retreated.

Fortescue, the world’s fourth-largest producer of iron ore, had its biggest one-day slip in a month despite reporting a modest rise in iron ore shipments for the quarter.

It looks like the broader market was expecting more from Fortescue said Kurt Mayell, Asian equity hedge analyst from CMC Markets Asia Pacific Pty Ltd.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4 percent or 35.93 points to finish at 8,086.74.

The bourse was weighed down by material stocks, with Fletcher Building leading decliners.

Statistics New Zealand said the country experienced a monthly trade deficit of NZ$1.143 billion in September, with the annual deficit at NZ$2.91 billion. (Reporting by Hanna Paul; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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