May 29, 2018 / 7:00 AM / 8 months ago

Australian shares end higher on banks; NZ down

* Bank shares rise, gains capped by consumer stocks

* Energy stocks shed early gains as oil prices dip

* New Zealand slips, hurt by health and consumer stocks (Updates to close)

May 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher Tuesday, lifted by banks, though gains were capped by declines for consumer and telecom stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.2 percent, or 9.6 points, higher at 6013.6. The benchmark declined 0.5 percent on Monday.

An index of Australia’s top financial stocks closed up 0.5 percent, led by Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which rose 1.1 percent.

Revelations of misconduct by participants during an inquiry into Australia’s financial sector have shaved about 7.4 percent off the financial index since the probe was announced on Nov. 30.

Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report, said some bargain-hunting was helping to shore up banks at present.

Materials stocks also added to gains on the index.

Mining stocks finished 0.4 percent higher. Galaxy Resources closed 14.4 percent higher, its best in more than two months, after announcing a $280 million sale of certain lithium mining tenements in Argentina.

BHP Billiton rose 0.5 percent as iron ore prices climbed.

Bauxite miner South32 Ltd said it would buy a 50 percent stake in the Eagle Downs metallurgical coal project in Queensland state from state-owned China BaoWu Steel Group for $106 million. The stock ended flat.

Energy stocks erased early gains and ended lower for a sixth session as oil prices remained under pressure.

Caltex Australia Ltd was down 1.7 percent, while Santos Ltd fell 1.8 percent, losing for a fourth session in five since it rejected Harbour Energy’s $10.8 billion buyout offer last week.

Consumer stocks Woolworths Group and Aristocrat Leisure Ltd were the top drags on the index while telecom operator Telstra Corporation also weighed, having lost 1.1 percent.

Aristocrat ended 1.7 percent lower. The stock had touched a record on Friday after posting a 2.8 percent jump in its half-year profit.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.1 percent or 9.34 points lower to 8635.86.

Healthcare and consumer staple stocks weighed the most on the index. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and a2 Milk lost 1.4 percent and 2 percent, respectively. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath and Karthika Namboothiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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