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Dec 23 Australian shares ended softer on Friday
ahead of the Christmas long weekend as lower commodity prices
hurt miners, while financial stocks lost traction - pruning some
of their earlier gains.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.3 percent or 16.04
points to end at 5627.9. The benchmark rose 1.7 percent over the
Mining stocks sagged following a drop in Chinese steel and
iron ore futures on Thursday after smog engulfing some
territories in China affected trade.
A decline in copper prices on Thursday added to the gloom.
Basic materials were the worst hit on the index followed by
consumer stocks. Large-cap iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group
closed 4.5 percent lower and was the second-worst
performer on the benchmark, while Rio Tinto ended 2.2
percent lower. Nickel miner Western Areas Ltd lost 2.3
Tatts, Australia's largest betting operator, closed
2.9 percent lower after it rejected a $5.27 billion takeover bid
from a consortium backed by KKR and Macquarie Group
, in favour of the offer from Tabcorp Holdings.
Shares of National Australia Bank pulled back from
its 13-month high ending the session 0.5 percent lower.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.37
percent or 25.12 points higher to finish the session at 6876.99,
its highest closing level in two weeks. The index gained 1.7
percent on the week.
Industrials and utility stocks drove the gains with shares
of Meridian Energy Ltd ending 1.6 percent higher and
the top gainer Auckland International Airport Ltd
rising 2.3 percent.
(Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric