November 28, 2017 / 6:22 AM / a year ago

Financials, commodities weigh on Australian shares, NZ lower

(Updates to close)

Nov 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended a touch lower on Tuesday as gains in utilities and consumer staples were offset by a dip in financials and commodity-related stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.07 percent or 4.473 points to 5984.3 at the close of trade.

The utilities sector was the best performer on the main board, with its biggest constituents AGL Energy and Origin Energy leading the gains, up 1.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Origin posted its sixth straight session of gains, hitting an over 2-year high earlier in the day, after the company said it is targeting cost reductions at its Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) liquefied natural gas project in a bid to lower its debt.

Origin also reaffirmed its full-year 2018 earnings guidance.

Gains in the consumer sector was led by retailing giants Woolworths Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd which rose 1.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Financial stocks were the biggest drag on the benchmark, with Westpac Banking Corp leading losses to fall to its lowest in over two months, losing 0.9 percent.

Rivals National Australia Bank and ANZ slipped 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Mining major BHP was the biggest loser on the benchmark, falling 2 percent, after as Chinese iron ore futures pulled back after eight days of gains.

Mining index heavyweights Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group slipped 0.8 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Telecommunications services sector added to the losses, led by a dip in Telstra Corp which fell as much as 3.5 percent, its lowest in over 5-1/2-years.

“I think the stock is falling due to two reasons. There has been news in the past few days that NBN has delayed the rollout of part of Telstra services. Also, the stock has been under pressure generally from the past few months,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Telstra on Monday noted an announcement from Australia’s National Broadband Network Co that it would cease sales on hybrid fibre co-axial (HFC) technology for six to nine months from Dec. 11.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.4 percent lower, or 34.61 points, at at 8,141.49, after hitting a record earlier in the session.

Utilities and material stocks were the biggest drags on the main index, which saw broad-based losses.

Mercury NZ Ltd and Fletcher Building Ltd were the biggest decliners on the benchmark, sliding 2.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill

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