January 16, 2018 / 5:42 AM / a year ago

Australian shares weighed down by financials and materials, NZ climbs

* Australia’s financial index hits over 1-month low

* Weak Chinese iron ore futures weigh on S&P/ASX 200 index

* NZ posts best day in over 5-weeks (Updates to close)

Jan 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Tuesday as financials stocks weighed on the benchmark while material stocks slipped due to weak iron ore and coking coal prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 percent, or 28.5 points to 6,048.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark rose marginally on Monday.

The country’s financial index closed down 0.52 percent hitting more than a one-month low as Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp fell 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.

“The market is just on hold at the moment... we’re getting really close to our profit reporting season, so I think a lot of investors are preferring to wait to see what happens then,” said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Australia’s mining index was down 0.5 percent, with mining giants BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd falling 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

Rio Tinto reported a 1 percent rise in iron ore shipments for 2017 to 330.1 trillion tonnes, in line with its guidance, but weak iron ore prices held down the stock.

Chinese iron ore futures dropped 2 percent on Monday as stockpiles of the steelmaking commodity at China’s ports surged to the highest since at least 2004.

“Maybe the market might need a little more than a solid report in line with guidance to maintain momentum,” said Spooner.

Meanwhile, Blackmores Ltd was the top gainer on the index rising 6.2 percent, its biggest intraday percentage gain in over two months.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index posted its best day in over five-weeks, adding 0.5 percent, or 39.17 points to finish the session at 8,250.54.

Consumer staples and industrial stocks led the recovery on the benchmark after falling for previous four sessions.

a2 Milk Company was the the top gainer on the index, rising 3.8 percent while also posting its biggest intraday percentage gain in over three months.

Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nikhil Nainan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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