July 25, 2014 / 2:32 AM / 3 years ago

Australia shares slip 0.3 pct to snap 7 sessions of gains

* ASX 200 slip 0.3 percent with miners dragging on the market

* 45 shares are trading higher, 142 lower and 13 unchanged (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Jul 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.3 percent from six-year highs on Friday in lacklustre trade as Wall Street closed mostly flat overnight, though an uptick in banks capped further losses.

Benchmark iron ore prices in China fell for the fifth straight session, hit by ample supplies and the reluctance of well-stocked end-users to make any big purchases. Global miner BHP Billiton Ltd declined 0.2 percent, while Iluka Resources Ltd dumped 2.9 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 17.2 points to 5,570.6 by 0223 GMT, snapping seven consecutive sessions of gains. The benchmark rose 0.2 percent on Thursday.

“Caution leading into the Australian profit-reporting season which gets underway next week and another drop in spot iron ore prices suggest that today may not be the day for a decisive break above technical resistance in the index,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in a note.

Banks helped lift the market with mid-tier Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd added 0.6 percent, while bluechips Westpac Banking Corp edged 0.3 percent higher and top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 0.1 percent.

The benchmark index touched a six-year intraday peak of 5,598.2 on July 23, underpinned by incremental rises as signs the economy in China is regaining momentum, while a strong earnings season in the United States has also bolstered investor sentiment.

Among defensive stocks, consumer staple retailer Wesfarmers Ltd lost 1.1 percent, while rival Woolworths Ltd was down 0.7 percent. Australia’s top telecommunications provider, Telstra Corporation Ltd, slippped 0.5 percent.

U.S. stocks finished a quiet session mostly flat on Thursday as earnings painted a mixed picture of the economy, though the S&P 500 set another record closing high.

Boart Longyear jumped 2.3 percent and has been on an upward trajectory since mid-July when it touched all-time lows. The company told the ASX it couldn’t explain the sudden jump in price, but noted global investment firm Centerbridge Partners had taken a substantial holding in the company.

Acrux Ltd bounced 10.4 percent after the drug delivery company posted solid quarterly sales numbers.

New Zealand stocks were headed for a flat end to the week after the previous session’s solid rise to a two-week high.

The benchmark NZX-50 index was fractionally higher at 5174.93, having opened modestly weaker mainly through weakness among small-cap stocks.

Telecommunication network operator Chorus Ltd was up 1.2 percent to NZ$1.685 as the company’s banking covenants were eased slightly to allow for weaker earnings, and it said it would suspend dividends. It faces price controls from regulators which will hit earnings.

Software concern Xero continued its climb back from recent selling, gaining 5.5 percent to NZ$25.85.

Fruit grower and exporter Scales Corp Ltd edged lower on debut, trading at NZ$1.58 from an issue price of NZ$1.60.

Editing by Eric Meijer

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