August 19, 2016 / 3:51 AM / 3 years ago

Stronger miners help keep Australia shares steady

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Aug 19-(Reuters) - Mixed showings among mining and bank stocks kept the Australian share market mostly flat on Friday, with investors shrugging off disappointing financial results.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.16 percent, or 9 points, higher at 5,516.

Weak oil and gas prices hammered half-year profits at Australia’s Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd on Friday, but investors sent their shares higher as both companies reported progress on cost-cutting.

Woodside was trading 2 percent firmer, while Santos gave up its gains and was down 0.2 percent.

Shares in mining giant BHP Billiton, which reported a record loss on Tuesday, added 1.6 percent.

“There has a swing back from the banks, which have had a stellar rise of late, to the resources stocks, which are leading the market today,” said James McGlew, head of stockbroking at Argonaut in Perth.

But the rise in mining stocks wasn’t universal.

Whitehaven Coal dropped 13 percent after rising sharply the day before after reporting better-than-expected annual profits.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged higher by 3 points or 0.4 percent to 7,388.12.

The index was poised for a second weekly gain, headed for a rise of 0.2 percent.

Chicken products producer Tegel Group led gains, rising 3.4 percent, after New Zealand and Australia made a deal enabling the export of raw poultry products from New Zealand to Australia.

Steel goods manufacturer Steel & Tube rose 1.3 percent while consumer goods retailer the Warehouse was up 1.1 percent.

Tower Insurance rose 0.7 percent, and dairy company A2 Milk was up 0.5 percent.

Power company Mercury New Zealand lost 1.1 percent, while telecommunications company Spark fell 0.6 percent.

For more information on DIARIES & DATA: U.S. earnings diary RESF/US Wall Street Week Ahead .N/O Eurostocks Week Ahead .EU/O ................................................................ For latest top breaking news across all markets NEWS1

Reporting by James Regan and Rebecca Howard

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