November 2, 2017 / 9:44 PM / in a year

Australian shares expected to open little changed; NZ flat in early trade

    By Aaron Saldanha
    Nov 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares are expected to open
flat on Friday, tracking stocks on Wall Street after U.S.
President Donald Trump named Jerome Powell as the Federal
Reserve's new chief and investors assessed the tax cut plan
unveiled by Republicans in the House of Representatives.
    The bill called for slashing the corporate tax rate to 20
percent from 35 percent but also ending certain tax breaks for
companies and individuals. 
    The dollar index       , a measure of the U.S. dollar's
strength against a basket of major currencies, fell to its
lowest since Oct. 26 after the proposals were announced. The S&P
500        ended 0.02 percent higher.           
    The Australian share price index futures          rose 0.3
percent, or 19 points, to 5,939, a 0.1 percent or 7.3-point 
premium to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index's         close. The
local benchmark fell 0.1 percent on Thursday.
    In the metals space, iron ore on the Dalian exchange
          in China climbed 2.2 percent to 442 yuan a tonne while
on the London Metal Exchange, nickel         and zinc        
retreated from multi-year highs.                 
    Brent crude         closed up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at
$60.62 per barrel. The benchmark is up by more than a third from
its 2017-lows in June.      
    Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index        
was flat in early trade as gains in consumer staples were
negated by losses in utilities.
    Homebuilder Fletcher Building          propped the index up
the most, trading 0.6 percent higher.
    On the other hand, Contact Energy Ltd          fell as much
as 0.9 percent and weighed the index down the most.    

 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison
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