June 27, 2018 / 6:32 AM / 5 months ago

Australian shares steady; NZ stocks tread water

* Materials and energy stocks up on higher commodity, oil prices

* BHP biggest boost to the benchmark

* Banks and industrials drop, blocking benchmark gains (Updates to close)

June 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended little changed on Wednesday as strength in energy and materials stocks was countered by declines in banks and industrials.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.70 points to 6,195.90 at the close of trade. The benchmark slipped 0.2 percent on Tuesday.

Gains on the index were driven by global miner BHP, which advanced 1.8 percent, underpinned by higher iron ore and oil prices.

Among other miners, Rio Tinto Ltd firmed 0.4 percent, while South32 Ltd jumped 0.3 percent.

Energy stocks also rose, with oil-focused firms Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Oil Search Ltd climbing 1.4 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Higher oil prices put pressure on shares of Qantas Airways Ltd, which dropped 2 percent to its lowest since June 5.

Other industrial sector stocks also fell, with rail operator Aurizon Holdings declining 2.9 percent to a two-week low.

Financials were also in the red, with National Australia Bank Ltd sliding 0.7 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp dropped 0.2 percent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.1 percent or 6.72 points to finish the session at 8,996.52.

New Zealand business confidence sank to a seven-month low in June, a survey by ANZ Bank showed on Wednesday, reinforcing recent signs the country’s economy was losing some of its gloss after years of strong growth.

Telecommunication services were the dominant gainers, with Spark New Zealand Ltd jumping 1.8 percent.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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